Founder, Dr. John Mighton

“John Mighton may well become the nation's math conscience. He not only knows that all children can master genuine mathematics but has repeatedly proved so with his brilliant, no-nonsense ... program.”

– Andrew Nikiforuk, Education Writer and award-winning author, commenting on JUMP Math founder Dr. John Mighton, O.C.

Dr. John Mighton is a playwright turned mathematician and author who founded JUMP Math as a charity in 2002. His work in fostering numeracy and in building children's self-confidence through success in math has been widely recognized. He has been named a Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year, an Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year for Canada, an Ashoka Fellow, an Officer of the Order of Canada, and has received six honorary doctorates. John is also the recipient of the 10th Annual Egerton Ryerson Award for Dedication to Public Education.

John developed JUMP Math to address both the tragedy of low expectations for students and that of math anxiety in teachers. What makes JUMP Math unique is the premise that anyone can learn math and anyone can teach it. His national best-seller, The Myth of Ability: Nurturing Mathematical Talent in Every Child, describes his approach and successes with the program. 

John began tutoring children in math as a financially-struggling playwright, though he had abandoned the subject for years after having nearly failed first-year calculus. His success in helping students achieve levels of success that teachers and parents had thought impossible fueled his belief that everyone has great untapped potential. The experience of repeatedly witnessing the heart-breaking paradox of high potential and low achievement led him to conclude that the widely-held assumption that mathematical talent is a rare genetic gift has created a self-fulfilling prophecy of low achievement. A generally high level of math anxiety among many elementary school teachers, itself an outcome of that belief system, creates an additional challenge. 

John had to overcome his own "massive math anxiety" before making the decision to earn a Ph.D. in Mathematics at the University of Toronto. He was later awarded an NSERC Fellowship for postdoctoral research in knot and graph theory. He is currently a Fellow of the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences and has taught mathematics at the University of Toronto. He has also lectured in philosophy at McMaster University, where he received a master’s degree in philosophy.

As a mathematician and a playwright, John believes that there are more connections between the arts and sciences than people generally see, as mathematicians are often led by a sense of beauty or elegance in their work. His own plays have been performed across Canada, Europe, Japan, and the United States, and he has won several national awards including two Governor General's Literary Awards for Drama, the Dora Award, the Chalmers Award, and the Siminovitch Prize. In a twist of fate, he played Matt Damon’s math tutor in the 1997 movie, Good Will Hunting.

 
"If children are born with anything, it’s with a sense of the invisible beauty of the world. They love seeing patterns, making connections, solving puzzles. Every child has a right to fulfill their intellectual potential, just as they have the right to develop healthy bodies."

All Things Being Equal: Why Math is the Key to a Better World

Math, Mighton says, provides us with mental tools of incredible power. When we learn math we learn to see patterns, to think logically and systematically, to draw analogies, to perceive risk, to understand cause and effect--among many other critical skills. Yet we tolerate and in fact expect a vast performance gap in math among students, and live in a world where many adults aren't equipped with these crucial tools. This learning gap is unnecessary, dangerous and tragic, he cautions, and it has led us to a problem of intellectual poverty which is apparent everywhere--in fake news, political turmoil, floundering economies, even in erroneous medical diagnoses.

In All Things Being Equal, Mighton argues that math study is an ideal starting point to break down social inequality and empower individuals to build a smarter, kinder, more equitable world. Bringing together the latest cognitive research and incremental learning strategies, Mighton goes deep into the classroom and beyond to offer a hopeful--and urgent--vision for a numerate society.

 

The End of Ignorance

A passionate examination of our present education system, The End of Ignorance shows how we all can work together to reinvent the way that we are taught.

The End of Ignorance conceives of a world in which no child is left behind – a world based on the assumption that each child has the potential to be successful in every subject. John Mighton argues that by recognizing the barriers that we have experienced in our own educational development, by identifying the moment that we became disenchanted with a certain subject and forever closed ourselves off to it, we will be able to eliminate these same barriers from standing in the way of our children.

John Mighton is the founder of JUMP Math, a system of learning based on the fostering of emergent intelligence. Inspired by the work he has done with thousands of students, Mighton shows us why we must not underestimate how much ground can be covered one small step at a time, and challenges us to re-examine the assumptions underlying current educational theory. He pays attention to how kids pay attention, chronicles what captures their imaginations, and explains why their sense of self-confidence and ability to focus are as important to their academic success at school as the content of their lessons.

"In this profoundly optimistic work, John Mighton shows what can be achieved by combining an understanding of the developing brain's plasticity with an awareness of the complex needs of young learners. The End of Ignorance has far-reaching implications for what modern societies should do to promote human development."  — Dr. Clyde Hertzman, Director, Human Early Learning Partnership

"In The End of Ignorance, John Mighton has brilliantly told the story of how JUMP affects learning in mathematics in the early years."  — Dr. J. Fraser Mustard, founding president and fellow, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research
 

To order The End of Ignorance ($19.95, ISBN 978-0-676-97964-0), please visit Random House.

 

The Myth of Ability

The Myth of Ability: Nurturing Mathematical Talent in Every Child explores his work and teaching approach, as well as the development of the JUMP Math program.

"Parents whose children are struggling with math will welcome this accessible, anecdotal account of a charitable tutoring program called JUMP (Junior Undiscovered Math Prodigies) founded by Canadian author Mighton (A Short History of Night) and currently serving elementary-level students in the Toronto area. Taking an upbeat approach, Mighton argues that we’re all born capable of learning anything. In part one, he explains how, as a young playwright in need of extra work, he got involved in math tutoring and was dismayed by traditional teaching methods. Part two of the JUMP approach gives specific problem-solving examples on such topics as fractions, multiplication and division, ratios and percents, and logic. The emphasis is on providing a support system and building the student’s confidence and self-esteem."