The Bard College Clemente Bridge Course in the Humanities

Codman Square Health Center, Spring 2005

Mathematics in History and Culture



First Assignment: Mathematical Autobiography (Automathography)

due in class or by email to  by February 17.



“Automathography” is a word made up by the mathematician Paul Halmos as the subtitle of his autobiography, I Want to be a  Mathematician: An Automathography, Springer Verlag, 1985.   Of course, not everyone wants to be a mathematician (or even wants to have anything to do with mathematics) but several people teaching courses involving mathematics have recently been asking their students to write brief automathographies.


I am asking you to write one as a way to begin our conversation about mathematics.  Your automathography should be about two pages and touch on as many of these questions as you can:


1. What is your earliest mathematical memory?

2. Reflecting on your math experiences, which ones stand out in your mind? Why?

3. Can you describe a significant math learning experience?  This can be positive or negative and occurring at school or home.

4. Please describe any person/situation who/which influenced your development mathematically.  Again this may be positive or negative.

5. Is there something you would wish to change about your mathematics education? How?

6. What is your attitude to mathematics today?

7. Is there a mathematical topic that you wish you understood better?

8. Is there a topic you hope we discuss in this course? A topic you hope to avoid?


If there’s anything else you’d like me to know about your experience with or relationship to mathematics, please include that as well.