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A pioneering educator, Mighton realized several years ago that children were failing math because they had come to believe they were not good at it. Once students lost confidence in their math skills and fell behind, it was very difficult for them to catch up, particularly in the classroom. He knew this from experience, because he had once failed math himself.
Using the premise that anyone can learn math and anyone can teach it, Mighton's unique teaching method isolates and describes concepts so clearly that students of all skill levels can understand them. Rather than fearing failure, students learn from and build on their own successes and gain the confidence and self-esteem they need to be inspired to learn. Mighton's methods, set forth in "The Myth of Ability" and implemented in hundreds of Canadian schools, have had astonishing results: Not only have they helped children overcome their fear of math, but the resulting confidence has led to improved reading and motor skills as well.
"The Myth of Ability" will transform the way teachers and parents look at the teaching of mathematics and, by extension, the entire process of education.
Doing the math
How many of us have said with a shrug, "I'm just not good at math"? Untrue, says mathematician John Mighton, who contends that anyone can succeed in math. In The Myth of Ability: Nurturing Mathematical Talent in Every Child, Mighton shares his methods for helping students overcome their inherent fear of numbers. Math, according to Mighton, is "simply a different way of perceiving nature."
Those who dread math might be relieved to hear that The Myth of Ability really does break down basic mathematical concepts into understandable components: a whole chapter on fractions begins by advising teachers to have their students count on one hand by twos, threes and fives. By the end of the lesson, students will be able to add, multiply or even convert improper fractions to mixed fractions.
With his simple yet effective method, Mighton helps take the fear out of what for many is a mystifying discipline.
Amy Scribner writes from Olympia, Washington.