My name is Ben Orlin. I like math, jokes, and teaching. I can’t draw. That much you could probably guess.
This blog is about the things I like. It’s also about the things I can’t do. I hope that the juxtaposition here – carefully edited writing alongside art that my wife (charitably) likens to “the average 6th grader” – captures the contradictory state of the teacher, of the mathematician – and, what the hell, of the human. We are all simultaneously experts and beginners, flaunting our talents while trying to cover our shortcomings the way an animal hides a wound.
You could call this a “math blog” or a “teaching blog” or “a webcomic interrupted from time to time by essays,” but I would call it a project about owning up to weakness and drawing strength from successes, however transient or trivial they may seem.
Other facts: I live in Northampton, MA. Before that, I taught in Oakland, CA and Birmingham, UK. I’ve taught every level of mathematics from ages 12 to 18, as well as Psychology, Biology, English, Theory of Knowledge, and even (in a dubious feat of strange scheduling) Earth Science.
To email me, just use the name of the blog at gmail. Or follow me on Twitter (#mathwithbadhashtags). I love to hear from readers, whether you stumbled here accidentally or are my college roommate Michael Wayne. (Hey, Michael Wayne!)
While we’re at it, here’s some of my stuff as it’s appeared at other web sites and publications:
- Vox: What journalists, weather forecasters, and Han Solo get wrong about probability
- Los Angeles Times: Why I Won’t Reenlist as a Yale Alumni Interviewer
- The Atlantic: When Memorization Gets in the Way of Learning
- The Atlantic: Why Do Private School Teachers Make Less Money?
- The Atlantic: How I Became an Unfair Teacher
- The Atlantic: I Lie About My Teaching
- Slate: You’re Not Stupid. You’re Slow. (Through syndication, this piece also appeared in the Chicago Tribune.)
- Slate: How to Fix the SAT: Give Out Fewer Scores
- Slate: We’re Giving the Wrong Dr. Seuss Book for Graduation
- Journal of Humanistic Mathematics: Nine Mathematical Ways of Watching a Baseball Game
And here are interviews with me, in case you want to hear people ask the tough questions like “what’s wrong with your drawings” and “why Ben why”:
- WordPress Discover (wherein the gracious Ben Huberman somehow manages to suggest that I have an “acumen” of any kind)
- Math Frolic and Math Frolic again (wherein the wonderful Shecky calls me “Math Blogging’s Bill Watterson” – a horrible slander against the great Bill Watterson)
- Challenging Opinions Podcast (wherein the eminently fair William Campbell proposes that maybe I hire four-year-olds to do my drawings for me)
- Top Craft Bloggers Share Their Tips for Online Success (wherein I give a few quotes, despite the words “top” and “craft” being quite ill-suited to me)