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Location: Newark, Delaware, United States

My name is David P. Bellamy. The only significant thing not mentioned elsewhere here is, I think, that I almost always prefer to read a book instead of watching a movie.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Fifty years ago this month, I began studying ballet, inspired by my sister who had been taking classes for years. All through the rest of high school and college (I was in ninth grade at the time) I was passionate and even obsessed with dance. It was difficult beyond anything I had ever imagined. I just lacked the basic musical education and musicality that was required, and what I now recognize as a bit of ADD made it more difficult.

An operation to remove a bone tumor in my left leg, at the beginning of my senior year in college, gave me a break which afforded some perspective. I faced up to the fact that I would never be successful as a dancer and begin to work seriously on mathematics, which before I had done just for fun. It has been wonderful having a career in mathematics, and I have achieved more than I would ever have dreamed in the pursuit.

Sometimes I wonder whether/how I should take this experience to heart in teaching my students in elementary courses who will never be mathematicians. I keep coming back to the conclusion that if they take math courses, whether for fun or as a requirement for graduation, they need to approach the discipline with the same single-minded passion with which I approached ballet. If they do not, I feel no responsibility for any less than stellar grades they earn. On the other hand, if they do so, I am willing to spend inordinate amounts of time to help them succeed if they still have difficulty.