6, 1921 The
Collegian Reporter of Morningside College, Sioux City, Iowa,
presented its readers a compilation of Classic Classroom
Remarks by Professor Robert Van Horne, head of the
Department of Mathematics. To quote from the article:
"No professor in Morningside is a dispenser of more
sound common sense philosophy in his class room than Prof. Robert
Van Horne, head of the department of mathematics. The
students who take work under 'Van', as he is affectionately known,
learn math -- and then some. The personality of this
professor will never be forgotten."
"A major student in mathematics, Eva Shelton, agreed last fall, by
request of the editor, to copy down during the year some of the
choicest and most typical "Vanisms." We are publishing them
here just as Miss Shelton reported them and they are bona fide.
They were made entirely at random, and nobody will be more
surprised to see them in print than Professor Van Horne himself.
Some are not intended to have a point, but are merely "pet"
phrases typical of the speaker. Many, however, are epigrams
worthy of the wisest sage in the country and contain precepts,
which, if followed conscientiously, should insure any man
Here are a few of his epigrams. An image (300K) of the entire
article is available here.
Don't be stuck on the same thing all the time.
Get over it and get stuck on something else.
The farther back in a book you go the deeper it is,
with exception of a song book.
The older we are, the more cautious we are about saying,
'It cannot be'.
There's a tremendous amount of action going on in the
I'm supposed to teach Calculus this hour.
I want to tell you, 'the study of mathematics clears up
If you can make your errors systematically it's all right.
Right there (the conception of zero) is where the ancients
spent 300 years and we pass it over without a thought.
If you've got books, time and inclination,
anybody can dig out for himself.
Build on what you know.
Time, patience and perseverance overcome all things.
I don't care how many brains you have, or how much you know;
give me a student who likes his subject and the rest is a function
The plodder is the fellow I have sympathy for.
Threat of failure is a standard bluff of a teacher.
Trying to load it on, in my judgment, is the ear mark of an
I'm the watchman on the tower. I blow the horn to tell that the
enemy's around. The fellow may wake up or not, just as he
The function of a college is to take humanity and introduce it
to knowledge in general.
Give it to him in a healthy, accurate way so he can be an
Give the mind time to adjust itself.
When you're through with college
you've just been to preparatory school.
Of course, you don't understand it all.
That's what the coming years are for.
You're remembering all these little tricks?