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REF NO.: 172

SUBJECT: Society harmed by lack of math skills, researcher

DATE: June 2

An inability to calculate the consequences of our actions is ultimately behind the harm we have done to our environment, to society and to our economy – and it all starts with how we teach our children math. That’s the belief of Dr. John Mighton, mathematician, author, playwright and founder of JUMP Math.
Dr. Mighton is a guest speaker at this week’s Canadian Mathematical Society (CMS) Summer Meetings, which are taking place June 6-8 in St. John’s. He says our country is in trouble because we don’t know how small things add up.
“We’re not a very numerate society,” he said. “We can’t make estimates and we can’t make simple calculations to gauge the size of effects of small actions. We make lots of bad decisions because the general population is not very well equipped to make those decisions and we’re starting to really suffer from it.”
His talk, entitled The Importance of Teaching Math to Children, will present evidence from psychological and educational research, as well as evidence gathered by the JUMP program, that ability in math can be nurtured even in weaker students. He will also examine which of the approaches to teaching mathematics presently used in our schools are working and which need to be re-evaluated or modified. 
 “There is a real interest in Canadian universities on improving mathematics teaching at the high school and elementary level,” he said. “Universities are suffering because students are coming in without proper preparation in math. But the principles of teaching I talk about can be applied at any age level.”
JUMP materials are available on the organizations website at http://jumpmath.org. Dr. Mighton is encouraging schools and teachers in Newfoundland and Labrador who are interested in trying to program to contact the organization for support or to attend his upcoming lecture which takes place Saturday, June 6, at 4:15 p.m. in the Arts and Administration Building, room
A-1043.

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For further information, please contact Kelly, communications co-ordinator, Science, Memorial University of Newfoundland, at 709-737-2019 or kfoss@mun.ca  or conference organizer, Dr. Sherry Mantyka, at smantyka@mun.ca.

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