I love math and teaching, and I can’t draw. That much you could probably deduce from first principles.
Other (more elusive) facts: my name is Ben Orlin; I live in Saint Paul, Minnesota with my wife and daughter; I go by he/him; and I am very excited about my two books, Math with Bad Drawings (2018) and Change is the Only Constant (2019).
I have taught every level of mathematics from ages 12 to 18, with occasional spells teaching Psychology, Biology, English, Theory of Knowledge, and even Earth Science (the latter to no one’s benefit, least of all the Earth’s). And I’ve spoken all across the U.S.
To email me, just use the name of the blog at gmail. Or follow me on Twitter or Facebook. I love to hear from readers, whether you stumbled here accidentally or are my college roommate Michael Wayne. (Hey, Michael Wayne!)
Here’s some coverage of CHANGE IS THE ONLY CONSTANT:
- The New Scientist called it “a cartoon triumph.”
- Math Frolic named it the Best Math Book of 2019.
- The chapter “1994, the Year Calculus Was Invented” appears in The Best Writing on Mathematics, 2020 from Princeton University Press.
- Ars Technica featured an interview with me and a personality quiz I wrote to decide whether you are a Newton or a Leibniz.
- I had fun doing interviews with the podcasts Talk Nerdy, My Favorite Theorem, Breaking Math and Culture Cafe.
- BBC Science Focus published an excerpt titled Archimedes: Inventor of war machines and calculus (almost).
- I wrote a piece for CM, my high school’s alumni magazine, on the connection between mathematics and inside jokes.
- Leading educator Jo Boaler adapted the chapter “Sherlock Holmes and the Bicycle of Misdirection” into a lesson plan.
- The Mathematical Association of America reviewer called it a “thoroughly enjoyable read, even to the point of giggles.”
- Geek Dad called my drawings “crude,” then noted “they’ve even drawn in my 7-year-old, who has been reading parts of the books over my shoulder.”
- Award-winning math teacher Patrick Honner described it as “simultaneously high brow and goofy, deep and easy going, important and self-deprecating, but always fun and enlightening. In other words, it’s uniquely Ben Orlin.”
Here’s some coverage of MATH WITH BAD DRAWINGS:
- Excerpts: What does math look like to mathematicians? (Popular Science); The Ten Types of People Who Buy Lottery Tickets (Vox)
- Reviews: Ars Technica; Hampshire Daily Gazette; 3 Quarks Daily; Math Frolic; American Scientist; Dimension (in Finnish; it includes the phrase “self-humiliation as a means of pedagogical effectiveness,” which I would like tattooed across my face).
- Interviews: Freakonomics Radio; Google Talks; Yale Alumni Magazine; Whad’Ya Know; The John and Heidi Show; Gonit Sora; Breaking Math; Read Science!; Inside the Black Box; WAMC Roundtable; Intelligence Unshackled
Here’s some of my stuff as it’s appeared at other web sites and publications:
- The Atlantic: When Memorization Gets in the Way of Learning; Why Do Private School Teachers Make Less Money?; How I Became an Unfair Teacher; I Lie About My Teaching
- Los Angeles Times: Why I Won’t Reenlist as a Yale Alumni Interviewer
- Slate: You’re Not Stupid. You’re Slow; How to Fix the SAT: Give Out Fewer Scores; We’re Giving the Wrong Dr. Seuss Book for Graduation
- Vox: What journalists, weather forecasters, and Han Solo get wrong about probability
- Journal of Humanistic Mathematics: Nine Mathematical Ways of Watching a Baseball Game
And here are other 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)
- I’m quoted briefly in this story on the struggles of the Canadian lottery to attract players during the coronavirus pandemic.