BenOrlin-37I 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:

Here’s some coverage of MATH WITH BAD DRAWINGS:

Here’s some of my stuff as it’s appeared at other web sites and publications:

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”:

171 thoughts on “About

  1. Your books look intriguing. I have a son who loves math but chose to get his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and his Master’s in physics. He was three years into the doctor program in physics when he was arrested. I would like to send him your books in prison but I can only find hardcover in their expensive. Do you know where I can find them used? Thank you.

    1. There should be used copies on Amazon, for maybe 2/3 the price of new. Does the prison have a library? I could try seeing if there’s a way to have a copy donated.

  2. What percentage of high school students fail to graduate, because they could not do the two-column proof?

  3. Excellent read. I’ve re-established my love and confusion (isn’t love always confusing) with mathematics and your book (C) is helping me back in. Gotta admit I stopped enjoying mathematics around the time of double and line integrals…

    Medium just published a very good view of the applications of calculus to “everyday” life:

    1. URL getting dropped. Maybe this will work – (prepend your own https : )

  4. I just read “What it feels like to be bad at math” and burst into tears when I read this: “I tell my story to illustrate that failure isn’t about a lack of “natural intelligence,” whatever that is. Instead, failure is born from a messy combination of bad circumstances: high anxiety, low motivation, gaps in background knowledge.”

    Thank you for such honest, truthful and hilarious words! The child I used to be really appreciated reading them, knowing she was never stupid for not “getting” math, she was just very scared.

  5. Hi, I’m unschooling a 12 year old. She does not enjoy being taught math in most forms but absolutely loves solving math challenges that nobody ever taught her how to do. We enjoyed reading your book together. Do you know of any resources where I could find some cool challenges to give her?

    1. Great question! Some thoughts:

      Brilliant.org has great problems.

      For geometry, the books Area Mazes and Geometry Snacks are fun, and I love Catriona Shearer’s work (@cshearer41 on Twitter).

      Alex Bellos has several good books of problems.

      YouTube channels like Numberphile and Cracking the Cryptic offer various pleasures.

      Teacher resources like Dan Meyer’s 3 Act Tasks, Fawn Nguyen’s Visual Patterns, Robert Kaplinksy’s Open Middles, and Jenna Laib’s Slow Reveal Graphs could be delivered by a parent pretty smoothly.

    2. Oh, I should also mention math game sites like those of Denise Gaskins, John Golden, Marilyn Burns, and Dan Finkel (all easily Googled).

  6. Do you sell posters of your work anywhere? Some of these would be fun to hang in my office. Especially “Why Not to Trust Statistics.”

  7. I am hoping to receive the cards from my Kickstarter pledge. I think my messages through Kickstarter must not be reaching you. The book was an excellent gift for my math teacher sister, and I would like for her to have the cards as well. Thanks.

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