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REVIEW: "The End of Ignorance", John Mighton

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  • Rob, grandpa of Ryan, Trevor, Devon & Han
    BKENDIGN.RVW 20090820 The End of Ignorance , John Mighton, 2007, 978-0-676-97962-6, C$29.95 %A John Mighton http://jumpmath.org/ John.Mighton@jumpmath.org
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 9, 2009
      BKENDIGN.RVW 20090820

      "The End of Ignorance", John Mighton, 2007, 978-0-676-97962-6, C$29.95
      %A John Mighton http://jumpmath.org/ John.Mighton@...
      %C 201 E. 50th St., New York, NY 10022
      %D 2007
      %G 978-0-676-97962-6 0-676-97964-5
      %I Knopf
      %O C$29.95 212-572-2103 800-733-3000
      %O http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0676979645/robsladesinterne
      %O http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/0676979645/robsladesin03-20
      %O Audience n- Tech 1 Writing 1 (see revfaq.htm for explanation)
      %P 312 p.
      %T "The End of Ignorance"

      After I finished reviewing the book, someone asked what the title
      meant. I'm not quite sure, since, on pages two and three, Mighton
      talks of "destructive" ignorance and "redeeming" ignorance.
      Presumably he only wants to end the destructive ignorance, but that is
      never made clear. There is a lot in the book that isn't clear, and
      there is a lot that is contradictory.

      Essentially, the book is a long promotional piece selling the virtues
      of the author's JUMP (Junior Undiscovered Math Prodigies) math
      tutoring and lesson program. There is a short appendix which lists
      the tenets of the program. These would appear to be fairly standard
      beliefs in the educational world: education is built on the
      aggregation of a number of skills, it's better to be positive,
      teachers can't teach what they don't understand, you need lessons and
      assignments, teaching relies on task analysis, education is a mix of
      group and individual work, and you need to assess students. Yet
      Mighton seems to think that these are new things he has discovered
      which the rest of the world has yet to learn.

      Well, not quite: this is one of the aspects where some passages in the
      book contradict others. The author admits that these factors in
      education are widely understood, but he seems to think that his
      program is the only one which follows these concepts. Or maybe not.
      For example, there is "discovery learning." Some parts of the book
      say that discovery learning is overblown. Others say that JUMP math
      is discovery learning.

      While there is a great deal of interesting esoterica in the book
      (although the author seems to have misunderstood or is willfully
      misrepresenting emergent properties), there isn't a lot of structure.
      The chapters do not seem to have consistent themes, and the book, as a
      whole, does not present coherent arguments. There are some examples
      of lessons in the addition of fractions, and binary arithmetic, which
      could be quite useful in teaching those units. However, there is an
      awful lot of whiny complaint about the lack of acceptance, on the part
      of school boards, of the author's math program.

      Pretty much all of chapter eight says that everything that you read in
      the way of educational theory and research is wrong. There are two
      major points to Mighton's argument on this issue. One is that a lot
      of trained educators don't use, and even oppose the use of, JUMP math.
      The second part of the/his argument is that many papers written by
      trained educators and researchers display grammatical errors.

      As a description of a process for building effective units and
      lessons, this book is incomplete and unhelpful. As a sales pitch for
      JUMP math, it is unconvincing.

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 2009 BKENDIGN.RVW 20090820

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