The Privilege of Christian Education

Upper Grade student Emily Garoutte gave a testimonial at the GDA All In His Time Banquet and the 2023 State of the School Address. Emily spoke about her educational journey as a student of both public and private education. She credits her experience with Christian classical education at Gloria Deo Academy as a tremendous privilege that deepened her relationship with Christ. Each discipline belongs to Him and is saturated in His truth if we are willing to see.”

Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”

I receive the most hysterical collection of expressions when I tell people I grew up going to both private and public schools. The public schoolers typically laugh, for I suppose I do not strike them as a typical “public schooler”, and the homeschoolers or private schoolers look moderately horrified. Frankly, I do not regret my time spent at either, for I have been able to witness the good, bad, and ugly of each. Now before I begin, I must point out that ultimately, public schools will not inherently create evil children, and private schools will most certainly not create saints. Gloria Deo Academy did not save my soul, for my salvation can only be attributed to the Lord Jesus. However, I am afraid to think of how disgustingly content I would have been with my elementary knowledge of Christ if my parents had not allowed me to attend this school. Gloria Deo Academy nourished both my academic needs as well as the well-being of my character. They saturate each of the academic disciplines in His truth, and their measure of success is not to the world’s scale. I am honored to share with you today what it has meant to me to receive such an education.  

In public school, the chief end of behavior was to alleviate chaos from the teacher’s shoulders. However, the question of “why” we were to be good was often avoided. Though public schools served me well academically, they lacked an element of beauty and purpose. There was a void when it came to instilling a desire to be good, not just a wish to avoid punishment. The rigorousness that Gloria Deo speaks of is not only in the formation of academic excellence but in the shaping of moral standards. Striving to imitate Christ is their day’s work. Both ends of my education were nourished, for I learned the quadratic formula and gained the curiosity to understand the Trinity. As C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man into a clever devil.” With parched minds, children seek the awareness of goodness, beauty, and truth beyond any fact or concept you could hand them.  

Secondly, in public school, there seemed to be a disjointedness between studying about our Creator at church and seeing him in anything He has crafted. Even as a Christian in public school, my life focused on the items supposedly “owned” by man. I.e., academic, musical, and athletic ability. The Sovereign rule over which God upholds the academic disciplines is acknowledged only in a Christian educational setting. God is not solely the Lord over theology. He Himself is not a science to master or a topic to study, for He is the creator of each discipline. In public school, we learned about the human body’s coincidental intricacy and its replicable design. In my experience at Gloria Deo, we learned about the body’s intentional intricacy and rejoice in its Divine design. Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” Thus, the joy found in learning something as impersonal as even Roman history may be magnified through seeking the glorification of Christ. Each discipline belongs to Him and is saturated in His truth if we are willing to see.  

Finally, I have found the motives for success shifted in a setting of Christian education. In public school, the overarching goal, including mine, was to endure that particular day, find a highly lucrative career, and fight to one day reside at the top of the human food chain. I don’t wish for that to be all I live for. Here, I find that I am alleviated from temporal pressures to appear wealthy or favored. We are mutually encouraged in bringing Glory to the Lord’s name and not our own. A literature teacher of mine who passed away in 2021 taught us the concept of being forged by fire as if we each were a piece of steel, aching to grow stronger and better equipped for its purpose. Through tribulations, education, and development we are molded into our identity in Christ. Which, as I have come to see, has strikingly little resemblance to what the world counts as valuable.  

So, sometimes I ponder on how my relationship with the Lord would’ve been if I had spent my entire schooling through public education. I don’t perceive I would’ve been a heathen, but I can easily see myself being submerged in a life depleted from spiritual depth. I may have read the psalms, but abandoned the rich teachings of the old testament prophets. I may have read comforting devotionals but let dust collect on any book challenging the doctrines of my faith. I would’ve still known God, but I surely would not have recognized the depths and the splendor of His beauty. Let us not remove the author’s name from the book He wrote, lived out, and designed. To my fellow peers and to others who have received an education through Christian teaching like GDA, may we never grow numb to how privileged we are to receive these insights and whispers from God through His creation.  

Thank you, and God bless you all.