A Mathematician’s progress

Attributed to “Hurwitz”

When I was a lad and went to school
arithmetic was taught by rote and rule;
I did long division and I learned cube root;
at the rule of three I was especially astute.

I was so astute at the rule of three
that now I am the holder of a Ph.D.
(He was so astute at the rule of three
that now he is the holder of a Ph.D.)

In high school geometry I made my mark;
the teachers called me a regular shark.
I memorized theorems through and through;
originals I never was required to do.

I committed so much to memory
that now I am the holder of a Ph. D.
(HE committed so much to memory
that now he is the holder of a Ph.D.)

I chose college courses carefully:
the first digit had to be less than three.
By arranging for my courses to intersect,
I avoided putting pressure on my intellect.

I arranged so much redundancy
that now I am the holder of a Ph.D.
(He arranged so much redundancy
that now he is the holder of a Ph.D.)

The faculty though that I was such a jerk,
I was obviously destined for graduate work.
They gave me a job to earn my pelf,
by teaching younger morons like myself.

I taught those morons with such esprit
that now I am the holder of a Ph.D.
(He taught those morons with such esprit
that now he is the holder of a Ph.D.)

Oh they had a silly rule that a thesis was required,
so a found a kind professor whose assistance I desired;
he said, “Do this,” and he said, “Do that,”
and he had my thesis finished up in two months flat.

It was not a brilliant thesis, but it didn’t have to be
so now I am the holder of a Ph.D.
(it was not a brilliant thesis, but it didn’t have to be,
so now he is the holder of a Ph.D.)

All that remained was my defense;
the questioning was less than intense.
the profs all said I made a very bad show,
but I knew as much at present as I ever would know.

So in order to be rid of me,
they finally had to let me have a Ph.D.
(So in order to be rid of he,
they finally had to let him have a Ph.D.)

Now students all, both far and near,
if you are thinking of an academic career,
if you don’t want to teach in a secondary school,
be careful to be guided by this golden rule.

Don’t ever try to show originality,
and you all may be holders of a Ph.D.
(Don’t ever try to show originality,
and you all may be holders of a Ph.D.)

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