The Jump Program
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Our Approach
The JUMP program is based on the belief that all children in the regular school system, even those diagnosed as having serious learning disabilities such as attention deficit disorders and intellectual delays, can excel at math. Mathematics, rather than being the most difficult subject, is the subject in which children can most easily succeed (and can thereby develop the confidence and cognitive abilities they need to do well in other subjects).

Over the last fifteen years, John Mighton has gathered a great deal of evidence to support this belief. One of his first students, who was then in a remedial grade six class, is now doing his doctorate in math. Another remedial student, who couldn't count by twos three years ago, recently completed academic grade ten math a year ahead of her grade level.

At JUMP, we believe there are two main reasons why the majority of children struggle with math:
  1. The psychological dimension of teaching mathematics is entirely negelected in our schools. In a typical classroom, at least half of the students believe they are not good at math. Children who don't believe they can succeed will never do so.

  2. The gap (in motivation and background knowledge) between the weakest and the strongest students makes the teaching of mathematics in a classroom of twenty-five to thirty students close to impossible. No amount of effort spent training teachers and developing sophisticated manipulatives and activities will ever help the majority of students if the unequal distribution of knowledge among children is not taken into account.
The JUMP program (which combines elements of the conceptual approach now used in schools and a more rote, operations-based approach to math) was designed to address both of these problems. Children are guided in extremely mechanical steps at first, but as they acquire the confidence and focus that comes from constant success, they are led to discover mathematical principals for themselves through games, magic tricks, puzzles, manipulatives and "toy" models of problems.

We are convinced that new intellectual and mathematical abilities can emerge suddenly and dramatically from a series of small conceptual advances, just as a chemical solution can change colour with the addition of one drop of reagent. Over the past 4 years, JUMP tutors and instructors have witnessed the same progression in hundreds of students: a surprising leap forward, followed by a period where the student appears to have reached the limits of their abilities; then another tiny advance that precipitates another leap.

The JUMP teaching method, which has been tested successfully with hundreds of students, is based on the fact that virtually all of the concepts used by mathematicians can be reduced to extremely basic operations. In working with weaker students, a teacher/tutor can always break an operation into steps the student cannot fail to perform. This style of teaching need not be followed indefinitely; even the most delayed student will eventually, in our experience, begin to skip steps and deduce explanations for themselves. But unless the teacher/tutor begins with extremely simple tasks, the majority of the students are not likely to develop the confidence they need to do well in math.

JUMP has shown that children learn better when they feel admired and are confident that they will not be allowed to fail. In a regular classroom, only a fraction of the class usually receives a mark that is considered good, while the majority inevitably convince themselves that the subjects they did badly in are too difficult or boring. JUMP teachers and tutors receive the training and tutorial support they need to help their weakest students so that all children can flourish. Constant praise and encouragement are integral parts of JUMP’s tutoring method.

The success of the JUMP program lies in the details.  To get a complete idea of how material is broken into steps and how concepts are introduced through "toy models", see the JUMP Teaching Manual and The Myth of Ability. To learn more about getting these books, please refer to our FAQs.