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The Myth of Ability: Nurturing Mathematical Talent in Every Child Paperback – September 1, 2004


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The Myth of Ability: Nurturing Mathematical Talent in Every Child + The End of Ignorance: Multiplying Our Human Potential + JUMP at Home Grade 4: Worksheets for the JUMP Math Program
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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. Patience and time are the keys to success, not standardized tests. Though he doesn’t belong to the education establishment, Mighton has recently been able to get his program tested in three West Virginia schools. Readers inspired to set up a branch of JUMP in their schools can find more information at www.jumptutoring.org.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

John Mighton holds a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Toronto and is the founder of JUMP (Junior Undiscovered Math Prodigies), an educational charity providing free tutoring to elementary-level students in the Toronto area. The JUMP program is currently being tested in three schools in West Virginia. John Mighton is also an award-winning playwright, currently adapting Brian Greene’s The Elegant Universe for a stage production at New York’s Lincoln Center, and appeared in the Academy Award-winning film Good Will Hunting. He lives in Toronto.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Walker & Company; Original edition (September 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802777074
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802777072
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,156,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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4 star
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See all 14 customer reviews
I highly recommend this book not only to teachers but also to parents of young children.
Meera Sharma
He quite rightly believes that if a child experiences success in maths, then they will be more open to further learning in the field.
Amazon Customer
Excellent resource --- truly what I believe --- that everyone can learn math and can learn to embrace it!
Jeanne Lazzarini

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
John Mighton has, quite simply (not an intentional pun), clarified the mathematical teaching method. I speak as a primary school teacher (that's elementary, for you American folks) who found textbooks to be quite frustrating in their explanations. I mean, just how do you teach everyone what you already know how to do?

He begins The Myth of Ability by outlining his frustrations with current teaching methods. Methods that punish the student for not knowing, when in fact there may be other things in play. He implores the teacher to think hard about whether the method of delivery in the lesson might just have a little to do with it. I know that feeling. Having explained something, to which I found remarkably clear and easy to understand, to then find those faces staring blankly back at me... well, I had to look further.

He goes on to explain some of the strategies he uses for maths concepts, such as fractions and multiplication. If you look closely, the concepts are explained so as to leave nothing behind. Nothing is assumed. Therefore, students that might be a little fuzzy on some concepts that you may have covered six months ago, can have a refresher before moving on to a new concept.

Mighton's JUMP method began as a tutoring system, but the achievement results were so good that it has been translated to the classroom. The whole system stems from his beginnings as a maths tutor himself, finding the available textbooks and methods quite frustrating (as I'm sure some of you out there do too).

The backbone of this process is success. He quite rightly believes that if a child experiences success in maths, then they will be more open to further learning in the field.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Andrew on June 3, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is a decent take on how to encourage kids who struggle with math. However, it requires the author's companion materials to make any real headway. Also, a little too much cheerleading.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Laraine Walker on March 3, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Myth of ability at first sounds somewhat grandiose. Does it really mean that I could become a concert pianist,or atop surgeon? What about a basketball player. But once I got I to this book I was charmed by the challenge of learning to teach mathematics by a system that guaranteed success, challenged students with solvable problems, and steadily builds on a study reliable platform. Thank you John. You have given all of us the challenge to break down any activity that we are teaching to simple steps that guarantee success, and naturally progress to something more challenging
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Meera Sharma on January 4, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book demystifies Math in a passionate, convincing manner. It gives me comfort to know that there are a lot of others who have, or have had, Math phobia which is often generated by the 'myth' that you are either born to be good at Math or doomed to struggle with this subject life long. As a teacher I am now beginning to relearn Math as I teach it, with a positive mindset and confidence, and hope to instill the same in my students. I highly recommend this book not only to teachers but also to parents of young children.
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Format: Paperback
JUMP, for Junior Undiscovered Math Prodigies, is the program that John Mighton developed to teach mathematics to children from Grade 1 to Grade 8. The title and a fair amount of the exposition, is deliberately provocative. Mr. Mighton says that he struggled with math early on, read that Gauss, the great German mathematician, was a genius and initially concluded that not being a genius, he could not do math. Mighton's JUMP program has demonstrated convincingly that many children thought to be virtually incapable of learning math can be outstanding students if properly trained. Nevertheless, there is surely a difference between a Gauss and the ordinary run of mortals in mathematical ability. "Ability Is Overrated" would have been a better title.
The key to the JUMP method would seem to be to break up a task, like the addition of fractions with different denominators, into the most basic steps, so that even the weakest students can solve it. In this case, as in others, the child is taught to count to the right answer. For example, if the fractions have denominators of 4 and 6, the child counts up by sixes: 6, 12,18...stopping at 12, since it is the smallest number in the sequence into which 4 divides evenly and so is the lowest common denominator.
Surely something like the JUMP method would also have a potential in higher level mathematics and in economics and econometrics. One sometimes wonders why textbooks are so terse in their explanations and proofs, leaving out a pile of intermediate steps. Partly, I suppose, it is simply to keep the length of textbooks within reasonable bounds, but at what a cost in comprehension, especially for weaker students.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Marianne M. Milloy on April 12, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am a grandmother and enjoyed this immensely and recommend it to all who love a child, especially those who love a child who struggles in school.
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By Secrets of Shooting on July 11, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book
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