Introducing Mr. X The Math Magician

18 07 2013

PrintMr. X, The Math Magician, is now booking school family math nights for the Fall and Winter. Bob Bishop is internationally known as America’s Math Magician. He visits many school each year to share the wonder of math. He has traveled from Boston to Los Angeles to Taiwan amazing and motivating teachers and students.


20 06 2013

Paul Harris

“If you take any activity, any art, any discipline, any skill, take it and push it as far as it has ever been pushed before, push it into the wildest edge of edges, then you force it into the realm of real magic”-Tom Robbins



The magic arena is a place of infinite possibilities and there’s room to play whatever game you want. But just for a moment let’s play the game of pushing the art into the wildest edge of edges.

All right. Here we go. Think back to your first magical encounter. The seed experience that first excited you then compelled you to do magic yourself. Someone did a trick for you that made you gasp. For me it was when my uncle Paul smashed a newspaper-covered glass through a table top. A moment of ecstatic bliss where every thought was pulled from my face leaving nothing more then empty space.

My first instinct was not to hear a joke or to be entertained or to be told a story or to make small talk but to experience that moment again and again. And it’s natural to think if you could learn to do magic yourself, then…well, you could have this experience all the time. But then about three seconds later you realize that it’s fun to know secrets and to do things for people that they can’t figure out. And suddenly you’re out of the astonishment game and into the ego game and with hard work and some good jokes and maybe even into the money game.

So now you’re a long way from home and from that virgin gasp that motivated the journey. And now you’re performing some of your high-entertainment-value effects and despite yourself a profound moment of astonishment is unleashed. It doesn’t happen every time but when the moon is right and the conditions are just so…there it is, a moment of total white-light astonishment. And you look at those astonished faces and maybe you’re not sure what to say, or you feel a little guilty, or a bit uncomfortable because it’s stopped the flow of your show or changed your easy relationship with the audience. Something powerful has happened. But everyone knows its just a trick and you’re “just a magician” so there’s this dysfunctional relationship going on and no one’s sure what to do with this strange experience including yourself.

But in general you’re pretty happy because on some level you realize this is a big win until someone says, “I wish the children were here to see this.” And for a moment you feel your whole game fall apart. Doing magic for children can be glorious. But the frequently voiced opinion that the experience of astonishment is a childish thing makes you wonder about what’s really going on.

If you listen carefully you’ll also hear things like “that made me feel like a child again” or “you made me feel like a little kid at the circus.” And if you think about this, you’ll see that what these astonished adults are really trying to say, even though they’re not consciously aware of it, is that for a brief moment, they experienced a clear, primal state of mind that they associate with a child’s state of mind. Somehow the adult experience of astonishment triggered some feeling of what it felt like to be a child.

I’m going to say this again because it’s so much fun using the italics button: The experience of astonishment is the experience of a clear, primal state of mind that they associate with a child’s state of mind. It’s the same experience that seduced you into performing magic in the first place. And if you follow these footprints it takes you right up to the crumbling edge of everything we think we are…and just beyond to a state of mind we experienced naturally as small children but that society devalued then made taboo as we became adults.

Here’s basically how it works, give or take a few metaphors.

You came into this world a blank slate. No ideas about who you are or what anything is. You’re just being. And it feels great…because there are no options, or opinions or judgments. There is no right or wrong. Everything is everything. That’s what you see in a baby’s eyes. Pure child’s mind. Then, very quickly, we learn stuff. The names of ten thousand things, who we are, what we’re supposed to be, what’s good and bad according to the current rules of the game. And you organize all of this information into little boxes. And when any new information comes along you file it into the appropriate box.

Right now you might be filing these very thoughts into the whack-o ideas box. I understand. You’re just doing your job. You’ve been trained to do this since birth. You have thus created your world-view.

There’s no particular reality to any of this. But it’s in your head and you know the territory and its where all of your thoughts do their thinking. But we quickly forget what was there in the first place because these thousands of little thought-boxes are stacked up so tight that the original clear space of child’s mind is completely covered up. It’s not gone. It’s just blocked by this wall of overstuffed boxes.

And then along comes a focused piece of strange in the form of magical effect. Let’s say this book vanishes from your hands. “Poof” no book. Your trained mind races into action and tries to put this piece of strange into one of its rational boxes. But no box will hold it. At that moment of trying to box the unboxable your world-view breaks up. The boxes are gone. And what’s left? Simply what was always there. Your natural state of mind. That’s the moment of astonishment. The sudden experience of going from boxes to no boxes. If you can keep the fear-response from arising you have the experience of going from a cluttered adult mind to the original clear space. Gee, it almost makes you feel like a kid again.

For most people the moment lasts less then ten seconds. Then because we crave the security of our missing world-view, we quickly build a new box. The “it-went-up-his-sleeve” box or the “it-was-all-done-with-mirrors” box or even the “I-don’t-know-what-happened-but-I-know-it-was-a-trick” box. And that’s all it takes. One thought, one guess, even a wrong one, and the boxes all come back, natural mind gets covered up, and the moment of astonishment is over.

Astonishment is not an emotion that’s created. It’s an existing state that’s revealed.

So what’s the point?

This new model redefines the magician’s valuable role in our culture as an “astonishment guide” who can help others experience their natural state of mind. This is a galactic leap from the magician’s current role as a novelty entertainer, or super con-man or Mr Ego. The centre or magic has always been the therapeutic experience of our natural state of mind. But that primal experience is so powerful and the taboo of “loosing” our mind is so great that we water down the experience with jokes and excuses and “hey, it’s just a trick.”

When the experience of astonishment starts to be recognized as a highly-valued destination, the win/lose magician vs. spectator game starts to dissolve. Suddenly you’re both on the same team…equally responsible for getting the most out of the moment.

More experienced astonishee’s who’ve learned to surrender to the moment and sink into the astonishment will be rewarded with a deeper, more sustained experience. Others who feel compelled to fight the moment or treat it as a puzzle to be figured out will get what they pay for…non-astonishment.

There is a genuine difference in the quality of peoples experience of magic once they understand the new model and take responsibility for the moment. I’ve had the participants who “get it” trying to explain it to those who don’t. One astonishee said it was like the difference of tossing down a beer and savoring a fine wine. Someone else referred to it as “gourmet astonishment.”

This model reshapes the perceptions of people who feel “I was astonished but I know it was just a trick, so what I experienced couldn’t have been real or very valuable.” Because now it’s understood that the astonishment and the tricks are not the same thing. The astonishment is real. It’s a brief flash of our natural state of mind. A place we should all experience more often.

The tricks are helpful tools to help unleash the moment.

You and your astonishee can still have fun and tell jokes and play together, but now there’s an understandable therapeutic value t the game. A definite win for all players.

In a nutshell: You’re using magical illusions to dissolve cultural illusions in order to experience a moment of something real.

The art of astonishment, when pushed into the wildest edge of edges, is the art of doing real magic.

Einstein Quotes on Wonder and the Quest for Learning

19 06 2013

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.
The process of scientific discovery is, in effect, a continual flight from wonder.

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.
One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.

It is almost a miracle that modern teaching methods have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for what this delicate little plant needs more than anything, besides stimulation, is freedom.

The search for truth and knowledge is one of the finest attribute of man-though often it is most loudly voiced by those who strive for it the least.

It is not so very important for a person to learn facts.  For that he does not really need college, He can learn them from books.  The value of an education is I liberal Arts College is not the leaning of many facts, but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks.

It is my inner conviction that the development of science seeks in the main to satisfy the longing for pure knowledge.

The main source of all technological achievements is the divine curiosity and playful drive of the tinkering and thoughtful researcher, as much as it is the creative imagination of the inventor.

Developing a Sense of Wonder

19 06 2013

A Sense of Wonder

by Rachel Carson

A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood.

If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.

If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder without any such gift from the fairies, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.

Parents often have a sense of inadequacy when confronted on the one hand with the eager, sensitive mind of a child and on the other with a world of complex physical nature, inhabited by a life so various and unfamiliar that it seems hopeless to reduce it to order and knowledge. In a mood of self-defeat, they exclaim, “How can I possibly teach my child about nature — why, I don’t even know one bird from another!”

I sincerely believe that for the child, and for the parent seeking to guide him, it is not half so important to know as to feel. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil.

Once the emotions have been aroused — a sense of the beautiful, the excitement of the new and the unknown, a feeling of sympathy, pity, admiration or love — then we wish for knowledge about the object of our emotional response. 

Once found, it has lasting meaning. It is more important to pave the way for the child to want to know than to put him on a diet of facts he is not ready to assimilate.


From The Sense of Wonder, by Rachel L. Carson, copyright 1956.

Two new workshops by Mr. X the Math Magician!!

13 06 2013

1. Neuro-magical Motivation in the Classroom.

How do you make “magic” happen in the classroom? What if you could motivate hearts to yearn and minds to learn? What if you could produce engaging learning moments that would build lasting intrinsic motivation in your students? In this workshop Bob Bishop (Idaho’s Math Magician and award winning teacher) will take you on an exciting adventure of state-of-the-art brain research-based strategies that will arouse curiosity, enhance understanding, engage reluctant learners and stimulate under-achievers. Using recent discoveries in neuroscience with how magicians think and perform magic, Bob will teach you the “magic wonder words” and the engaging activities that will make magic happen in your classroom!

2, Neuro-magical Mathematics in the Classroom.

Experience the magic of your brain on math!! Bob Bishop (Idaho’s Math Magician) will reveal some of his most favorite secrets of math magic. He will discuss performance, psychology, and the math behind the magic of some of the best math illusions. You will experience the wonder of math and teach math concepts in a “magical” way. Come if you want a hands-on, minds-on workshop that will give you many tricks-of-the-trade to add to your wonder and enjoyment of the Magic of Math. Using recent discoveries in neuroscience with how magicians think and perform magic, Bob will take you on an unforgettable magical adventure in mathematical neuro-magic in the classroom.

Bring the Magic of Math to your School!!!

11 08 2012

Bob Bishop (Mr. X) has been known as Idaho’s Math Magician for 17 years. He has visited hundreds of schools in Idaho as well as other states and internationally.   He has gained much media notoriety as the Math Magician from television to many newspaper articles (including the Idaho Statesman Life Section).  Bill Roberts of the Idaho Statesman says, “He focuses on showing kids the fun angles of math and helping students overcome “math-a phobia”. Bob has spoken at the Idaho School boards Association convention and has won many awards for teaching and his math students have also won many math awards.  He was recently awarded the GEM award for teaching Idaho’s gifted students. He has helped coordinate Micron’s Math Meet for over 12 years, has taught university classes in teacher development in mathematics, has taught for the Bureau of Education (BER), and is certified in Brain-based education, has taught ICTM math conventions and have been a trainer at the Edu-fest gifted conference for 16 years.   Recently he presented his Magic of Math program as well as his Thinking like a Genius (playing the role of Albert Einstein) to the teachers and students in Taiwan.

Bob says,

In my experience working with students I have noticed a continued weakness in math skills and a need to teach math in a way that will inspire elementary students to love math at an early age.

The idea that would help address this need and dovetail with the Math Initiative is a hands-on interactive school program for all elementary school age students.  It is a vision of bringing the Magic of Math programs to every elementary classroom in Idaho to help equip teachers and students with the joy of learning and teaching mathematics.  What it offers is an additional boost of excitement and enthusiasm for math.

 What I would like to offer is the Magic of Math presentations.  I, as the Math Magician, would visit schools and teach students, teachers and coordinate a family Magic of Math evening.  I have coordinated math nights for many years with great success. 

I have many testimonials from teachers and parents about the benefits of the Magic of Math program (from the teacher inservices of games and activities, class visitations and math nights) you may read upon request. 

As a resident Math Magician, I would like to visit every classroom of  the schools desiring this program and give standard based grade aligned activities that would blend hands-on activities, interactive games, and math magic (discrepant math events that inspire inquiry and investigations) that the teachers can build upon.

I would provide inservice training for the teachers by teaching state and nationally aligned math games and activities that will empower teachers with methods to teach the school curriculum in motivating and memorable ways. This would parallel the professional development training that the teachers are receiving.

Trained in brain-compatible teaching methods, I would train teachers to motivate students to learn math and problem solving techniques.”

Bring the Magic of Math to your School this year!!!

For more information see

What’s going on with Mr. X?

8 05 2012

Mr. X, the Magician, (AKA Bob Bishop) has been busy performing his unique shows. Recently he has been busy performing at conventions, restaurants, parties, conferences and businesses.

He has been creating Magical Moments that leave a lasting impression!  If you are an event planner needing an illusionist or close-up magician for your conference, awards dinner or party, Mr. X is your best choice!

Take a look at my face book and get as many people as you can to Like it.

Our goal is to get 500 by May 25th!!

Look it up and see what you think.

Web page is