Monday, June 11, 2007

The End of Ignorance

It all adds up to success
Children learn math easily

Brenda Branswell
The Gazette
Sunday, June 10, 2007

If fractions are a vague memory and the thought of calculating a percentage is spooky, brace yourself for this shocking declaration from John Mighton.

"Mathematics, rather than being the most difficult subject, is one in which children can most easily succeed, even at a young age," Mighton writes in his new book The End of Ignorance: Multiplying Our Human Potential.

Of course, Mighton, a mathematician and Governor General's award-winning Toronto playwright, knows you might not see it that way.

"Eighty per cent of adults struggled or have bad memories of mathematics," Mighton, said during a recent stop in Montreal.

"So they would find it hard to believe, first that math is easy. Second, that it could ever be interesting or beautiful."

"But kids fortunately don't have that problem."


Mighton, who argues children should be given more rigorous instruction, contends things aren't broken down into small enough steps for students nor is there enough repetition. But he is quick to add that doesn't mean offering rote learning.

"Some people confuse JUMP with rote learning because the steps are small," Mighton said. "But if you allow the students to take the steps themselves then it's not rote learning."

The goal, he added, is to eventually make the steps bigger and bigger to let students work more independently.

"Math is cumulative. It's like a ladder -- if you miss a step you can't go on," said Mighton who describes JUMP Math's approach as "guided discovery."

"If a kid falls behind one year in math it's almost certain they'll never catch up unless the parents can hire tutors."


"Teachers feel it's very logical," said Heel, who has since conducted a survey of teachers who are using the materials. "They find it's easier for them to teach."

"They're also noticing that students are feeling much more confident in doing math. They feel they can get it."


"We're really under-estimating (students') potential, especially the lower part of the classroom."

Full Gazette article here

The End of Ignorance: Multiplying Our Human Potential Amazon review

No comments: