Math Is Not Linear

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Okay, I know this doesn’t have much to do with the main subjects of this blog, but in addition to everything else I tutor middle school kids in math. Not very complicated math—I excel at introducing algebraic concepts to 5th and 6th graders, while helping them understand fractions and decimals. I am not a math pro by any means (I wilt at the sight of logarithms) but I love helping kids figure out how to approach and solve problems.

One of the first things I tell my students and their parents is that every single kind of math was invented to help solve a problem. Math is not just a blunt weapon designed to hasten children’s introduction to nihilism. It actually has a point, and that is to help people look at a problem, figure out what they need to know in order to solve it, and then go about finding a solution, step by step. Mathematical thinking—logic, pattern recognition, decoding—is really creative thinking.

The presentation below is made with a super cool new technology that will make PowerPoint obsolete one of these days. If you’ve never seen it before, head over to and see how it works. It takes a while to load, but when it does just use the right arrow button to forward the presentation. To see a full screen version, click on “More” and then choose full screen. Thanks to Alison Blank, the creator, for beautifully illustrating/animating one of my favorite education rants!

5 thoughts on “Math Is Not Linear

  1. Pitch313

    !.) Prezi does appear to have features and possibilities beyond (what I know of) PowerPoint. Maybe I’ll learn more about the app and try to do something with it.

    2.) What works for ‘math” maybe also works for “magic.” Magic is not linear.

    3.) I’ll bet that typographic poets would have loved Prezi!

    Anne Reply:

    I disagree Pitch, I think this leaves PowerPoint in the dust for most uses. Check out this one especially the use of sound and basic flash animation. Incredibly creative, with great content as well. There are some limitations, notably how slow it is to build one online, but there is a desktop version as well.

  2. Maggie


    Cool, understandable, DEFINITELY not boring!

    I can’t speak for ease of use as the creator, having never created anything in PowerPoint either … but this is definitely easy to use as the reader.

    And the ‘Math is not Linear’ prezi? AWEsome!

  3. Lyra

    Anne, this was the second one I watched after the Solving Problems one. I love Prezi! And this presentation made me feel all warm and fuzzy and righteous inside as well.

  4. Henry Buchy

    Hiya Anne!,
    I loved the presentation, and to pitch313, I already do teach magic and the craft in this way.
    There’s only a few real basic skills needed, after that, it’s really wide open.

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