I have been a college professor since 1973. I did not want to become a professor, but a fellowship compelled me to be in the classroom. I never left.
I believe teaching is more a vocation than a job, because it is never just about imparting information. The good teacher cares about his/her student and can be inspiring while still challenging them. I had some extraordinary teachers.
I think teachers and professors, at their core, believe that education is the best chance we have of becoming better human beings. We have a collective faith that with learning and experience we can, as a species, determine right from wrong, good from bad, the true—which can lead to the realization of human ends, and the false, which can lead to the end of civilization itself.
Education comes from the Latin root educare, which means to “draw out.” Not push in, cram in, jam in, but to draw out of each individual student their authentic voice, their own individual ways of seeing and believing. When Michelangelo was asked how he could make something so wondrous as the statue of David, he supposedly answered, “He was in the stone and all I did was let him out.”
That’s what teachers and professors must do.