As much as anything else he wrote, these few sentences from De Magistro ("On the Teacher") in the next paragraph illustrate the role that Augustine carves out for professional educators and for how they teach:
". . . Who is so foolishly curious that he would send his son to school in order to learn what the teacher thinks? But all those disciplines that teachers claim to teach, even those of virtue and wisdom, they explain with words. Then those who are called students consider within themselves whether what was said is true, each consulting that inner truth according tho his own ability. Thus they learn." (De Magistro)
In De Magistro, Augustine asks how anyone can learn anything of eternal value in a world where evil exists. He then proposes an answer to his own question. He says that those with faith in God become the subject of divine illumination.
This introduces Augustine's doctrine of the "internal teacher."
This is Christ, who for Augustine is the source upon which human knowing is based.
While no tutor on earth can teach anything absolute, he or she nevertheless may assist a student to recognise choices that will lead to God.
The only one who can impart true – that is, eternal – knowledge is Christ. For Augustine, Christ alone is the teacher of humanity.
"One who hears (a teacher) likewise sees those things with an inner and individual eye. He knows the matter of which I speak because of his own contemplation, and not by means of the words of the teacher. Hence I do not teach even such a person, although I speak what is true and he hears it. For he is taught not by words, but by the realities themselves made manifest to him directly by God revealing them to his inner self." (De Magistro, 40)
The conclusion in De magistro is that the teacher can only guide and inspire because in the final analysis real learning happens within the pupil.
The learner must turn to God from truth. Education is necessarily religious in nature.
(Continued on the next page)