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Toronto education innovators JUMP math draw notice for making math easy

John Mighton, founder of Toronto-based non-profit company JUMP math, says that in his youth he had trouble with mathematics. It was only in his twenties that, doing remedial high-school work, he found it somewhat easier. He wound up getting a doctorate in mathematics in his thirties.

At the time he was a playwright, and so he started tutoring math students to make extra money, he says, and found that students who had previously struggled could learn using his method, which breaks math down into smaller steps to ensure mastery at incremental levels, suddenly excelled. "I found it in myself. I'd always assume I had reached a limit when I came to something new and difficult," he says. "Later, I could teach a course on the material I struggled with."

His method, begun as a workbook-based tutoring system, is now slowly spreading throughout schools in Canada and England. Working with a skeletal staff of 10 in his Toronto office, a growing teacher network has enabled rapid growth in the company's business. "We'll train 2,000 teachers this year, and then they often train other teachers," Mighton says. "Building a teacher network is a very cost-effective method of expanding quickly."

Mighton says that now that a randomized controlled study conducted by Sick Kids' Hospital (noted recently in The New York Times) has demonstrated JUMP math can double a students learning growth over five months, the rate of expansion is expected to grow. "The economic and spiritual loss to our country through innumeracy in the population is vast," Mighton says. "And our program is cheaper than other programs. An investment from a corporate partner or a few large donors could in a very short time mean we could reach every school in the country. The gain to our economy and culture would be tremendous."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: John Mighton, Founder, JUMP math
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