Professors appear larger than life to students; as a result, they
must personify a model worthy of imitation. It is imperative
keep alive every student’s belief that they are acting
in the best interests of the student, through a strong and
relationship of trust and care.
The proverbial “keeper of the gate of knowledge” has long
been used as a metaphor characterizing a professor’s responsibility
to maintain standards and as a rationale for maintaining rigor and high
expectations for student performance in specific disciplines. The metaphor
also connotes the professor’s conscience of academic responsibility
to the discipline itself as well as to the greater society. The Judicious
Professor is about the importance of student perception; whether professors
appear as keepers who are only “guarding the gate” or whether
they appear as interested professionals who are “helping students
through the gate.” We feel the professor’s responsibility
for “gate-keeping” should never be compromised. Rigor, quality
of performance, and level of understanding must be held inviolate. Yet
the manner with which professors “keep the gate” can be improved
to the point that professional “gate-keeping” will dramatically
enhance the discipline and further intellectual development of students.
When students perceive the “gate-keeper” as one who is
sharing responsibility for student academic achievement, the number
students will increase greatly and the knowledge-base will be widely
distributed throughout society.
The Judicious Professor provides professors with a foundation for a
dialogical, pro-active approach to teaching and learning. By setting
in motion at the beginning of each course mutual expectations that are
grounded in a philosophy that helps students to respect and learn to
adhere to mutual understandings, many of the problems caused by a reactive,
didactic learning environment simply do not happen.