During our life time all of use are frequently in two situations: “student” and/or “professor”. I use these two terms her to refer to persons who are learning/teaching, regardless of their profession, and not in relation with corresponding formal positions in Universities.
While the first one is associated with study/learning, the last one implies teaching of other people. Although these two situations are viewed as separated, in my opinion they should not be. Indeed, due to the limited knowledge and experience, a student is not necessarily yet in a position to teach other people. On the other side, due to its large knowledge/experience a professor can transmit his expertise to other people. However, a good professor is also a quasi-permanent student, in the sense that he uses any opportunity to learn and to extend his knowledge.
A fundamental question for any professor is: what is his mission? It is probably easier to answer first to the question: what is not the ultimate goal of a professor? It is not to transfer information, to provide grades, to make discipline. For my point of view, the mission of a professor is:
· to transmit the passion for study/learning, research (in a large sense)
· to encourage/inspire the students to believe in them and to follow their own ways
· to expose the students to experiences from which they can learn
A natural question follows: how should a professor do these in an optimal way? The answer to this question is to complex to be considered here. However, I mention only two aspects. First, a professor can inspire his students to like a field only if he is passionate about that domain. Secondly, the effectiveness of a professor in fulfilling his mission is strongly linked to its abilities to communicate and interact with the students. From this perspective, to become a good professor is a life-long challenge, but the reward is unlimited.