Dr. John Mighton
Founder & Chief Creative Officer, JUMP Math
Dr. John Mighton is a playwright turned mathematician and author who founded JUMP Math as a charity in 2001. 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 three honorary doctorates. 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 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 PhD 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.