“Dan is by far the best math teacher I have had.”
Founder and Director of Operations of Math for Love since 2010
Cofounder and Board Member
- Art ∩ Math show at the Center on Contemporary Art
- In collaboration with Katherine Cook and Kate Vrijmoet
- TED Talk viewed over 1M times: Five Principles of Extraordinary Math Teaching
- Numerous National and International Keynotes, including How Mathematicians Play (2022-2023)
- Numerous Workshops and Professional Development Sessions, including:
- Mathematical Openers
- Mathematical Games
- Rich Tasks and Transformative Math Experiences
PhD in Mathematics from University of Washington, Seattle
My Mathematical Autobiography
Math came naturally to me from a young age, and I excelled without having to work that hard. I was a relentless game player, puzzle solver, and maze drawer as a kid. In elementary school I was accelerated until there was nowhere to put me. I was done with calculus as a freshman in high school, and didn’t have any math to do for half of high school.
Even though I was good at math, what I learned in school often felt a little pointless to me. The teachers explained how to do some process (“Here’s how to use the quadratic formula.”) and then we copied them. Who cared? If that was all I had seen of math, I probably would have left the field to do something more interesting. But I was lucky: in the summer of ninth grade I was accepted into a math camp at Hampshire college. The math I did there, and the opportunity of getting to work with kids like me under the tutelage of real mathematicians changed my life.
That experience inoculated me against all future problems with math. Because I knew what the real thing looked like, because I had done math like a real mathematician and had seen the beauty, I was protected when someone told me that boring busywork was all there was to math. The deeper I went into the subject, the better it got. I graduated from Swarthmore College with a major in mathematics, and taught math for two years at Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn Heights. In 2004 I came to graduate school at the University of Washington, and in 2010 I graduated with my PhD in algebraic geometry. The whole time I’ve been wondering why kids never get to see the good stuff in math until they’re graduate students. Why is a typical math class at school more likely to be a place where students learn to despise math than to love it? Math for Love is my response to this state of affairs. I want to to give kids the opportunity to be mathematicians right now. I want to teach math to groups, to individuals, to parents, adults, and children. I want to give everyone the chance to fall in love with mathematics.