John Mighton, playwright, mathematician, educator (b at Hamilton, Ont 2 October 1957). John Mighton's first subject of academic study was philosophy. He earned a BA at the UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO (1978) and a Masters in Philosophy at MCMASTER UNIVERSITY. After establishing himself as a successful playwright, Mighton returned to the University of Toronto to do a doctorate in MATHEMATICS (2000). He went on to become a Fellow at the Fields Institute and to create JUMP, Junior Undiscovered Math Prodigies, a math instruction program for struggling students. Mighton has won national and international acclaim for his contributions to both Canadian THEATRE and math education.
John Mighton was inspired to become a writer after reading poet Sylvia Plath's letters, through which he realized that determination and work, rather than inborn genius, make a successful writer. Mighton's plays show his dual fascination with both philosophical and scientific questions. Scientific American, for example, concerns the ethical dilemma faced by a scientist going to work on a military weapons project. Mighton received Toronto's Dora Mavor Moore Award for Scientific American, in 1988, and won again the following year for A Short History of Night, a play about the 16th-century mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler.
In 1992, John Mighton won the GOVERNOR GENERAL'S AWARD for Drama for Possible Worlds & A Short History of Night. He also wrote the screenplay for the 2001 film version of Possible Worlds, an alternative universe murder mystery starring Tilda Swinton and Tom MCMANUS. Mighton himself had a small role in the 1997 film Good Will Hunting. Mighton won a second Governor General's Award for Drama, in 2005, for Half Life, a nursing home romance about two elderly patients with Alzheimer's Disease. He was also the recipient that year of the $100 000 Elinore and Lou Siminovitch Prize in Theatre.
In addition to JUMP, the charitable tutoring program that he founded, Mighton has published important critiques of the way in which math is conventionally taught. The Myth of Ability: Nurturing Mathematical Talent in Every Child (2003) became a national bestseller. In The End of Ignorance: Multiplying Our Human Potential (2007), Mighton debunks the widespread notion that the ability to excel at math is a genetic "gift." John Mighton has been elected to the Ashoka Fellowship, in recognition of his accomplishments as a social entrepeneur, a "changemaker."