Gibbons' books help motivate

Jan 23, 2003, vol. 26, no. 2
By Carol Thorbes

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SFU education professor emeritus Maurice Gibbons' new book promises to help teachers motivate adolescents, one of the most challenging groups of students, to learn.

The Self-Directed Learning Handbook: Challenging Adolescent Students to Excel, is Gibbons' tenth book on self-directed learning, a teaching methodology he helped pioneer in Canada. The methodology is based on the premise that students are more motivated to learn and learn better if they devise their own approach to their own learning projects.

Gibbons' fieldwork included teaching himself wood carving, an art form for which he is now well known. His work Solstice hangs in the Diamond University Centre at the Burnaby campus.

In his latest book, Gibbons introduces a new concept - bridging. The learning/teaching technique enables both teachers and students to acquire skills for self-directed learning gradually.

Students' skills and sense of responsibility for teaching themselves increase in proportion to their teachers' ability to impart those skills.
The former middle school teacher says his book couldn't be more timely as public school teaching is mistakenly becoming more teacher-centred in the name of school accountability.

Almost 19 years after retiring from his teaching duties at SFU, Gibbons shows no signs of slowing down. He has an article in the forthcoming issue of the Kappan, an educators' journal, and another book in the works.

“If I keep working hard,” says Gibbons, “I may get tenure yet.”

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