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Sunday, September 25, 2016
Educationalist James McGibbon has died
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 James McGibbon, MA Ed B was born in Greenock on April 5th 1916. He was the son of James, a riveter, and Annie McGibbon and the eldest of three children, the late Duncan McGibbon and Charles McGibbon. He was educated locally in Greenock and went to Glasgow University where despite his excellence at mathematics in his school exams he decided to study English Literature. He worked as a riveter in the shipyards during his vacations. In 1938 he received his MA for a thesis on Shakespeare. He then took a Teacher's General and Specialist certificate at Jordanhill Training College in 1939. He then went on to study for an Ed.B in Psychology and Education (re designated M.Ed), where he studied under Robert Thouless. His studies were interrupted by the War. He served with the Blackwatch among other regiments, and went to Cairo with the Eighth Army where he was present at El Alamein. He rose in the ranks to become Sergeant Major. While in Cairo he edited a Catholic Newspaper. He was a popular and well-liked figure in literary circles in Cairo and was a close friend of the poet and critic GS Fraser. At the end of the War he returned to Greenock with his wife Gillian nee Peddar whom he met in Cairo. From 1946 to 1949 he worked as a teacher at St Columba's Primary School and St Mary's Secondary School, Greenock. He also worked as a lecturer in the University of Glasgow Extra Mural Department. During this time his two sons, Ian and Duncan were born. He then moved to Wolverhampton where he lectured as Flight Lieutenant in the Education Branch of the RAF at Cosforth from1949-1953. He then moved to Middlesborough, his family adding a third son , Calvert to its ranks, who had been born in Kent, where his family was living temporarily. In 1953 he was appointed one of the first Educational Psychologists in Yorkshire where he continued to work until 1956. He was then appointed Senior Educational Psychologist for Twickenham LEA where he continued to work until 1962. In the meantime two more sons, Stephen and Andrew were born. He was appointed Head of the Education Department at St Mary's College Strawberry Hill in 1962. He became a recognised Teacher of the University of London where he lectured and examined for B.Ed degrees and for the Teacher's certificate and the Diploma for Teachers of Handicapped Children. He was also an external examiner for Colleges of Education in Malta. He worked tirelessly during an unprecedented expansion in teacher training where he supervised the formation of thousands of teachers before retiring in 1981. He continued to work part-time for the Child Guidance Clinic in Twickenham, as well as being a Consultant Educational Psychologist for the National Association for Mental Health. He was also a consultant psychologist for many private schools in the South East. He was beloved by the college administrators, respected by his colleagues and held in awe by his students, as much for his wit as for his wisdom. In 1966 he was appointed Editor of the influential journal Catholic Education Today. Through out his life Jim McGibbon had contributed articles and reports to newspapers in Greenock, Cairo and later to the Times Educational Supplement and The Tablet. He had also worked as a scriptwriter for RAF Educational Films. His prophetic and insightful criticism of the Newsom Report on Primary Education and his exposure that neither main political party had researched the educational effectiveness of Comprehensive Education were particularly noteworthy. His editorials and commentaries on Catholic Social and ethical teaching during this profoundly controversial period of the Church's history inspired generations of Catholics and won the respect of the hierarchy. His colleagues including the producer Roger Lane , the critics Jon Cummings, John Goodridge and the children's book writer RJ Hoare often expressed their gratitude that even during controversy, Jim McGibbon remained an amiable, witty and loyal friend. The closure of the magazine at a time when its circulation was beginning to increase again was an ironically apt tribute to the unique and individual conscience he brought to bear in defending the teaching of the Church. After his retirement from St Mary's College, James McGibbon worked for a year as Exchange Professor of Education at the University of Malta. It was as stimulating to his students as it was a fitting and sunlit end to a brilliant career. In July1998 his wife, Gillian died after a long battle with a heart condition. This had an understandable effect on his own health, which despite his prowess as a both a cricketer and a footballer in his Greenock and army days, began to suffer a gradual and gentle decline. In this condition, he was tended, with moving and considerate care, by his only daughter, Barbara McGibbon, the youngest in the family. She visited often and brought him joy and consolation. Members of his family and parish mention that after a visit to Lynd House where he was so kindly looked after, they would come away uplifted by a man still capable of singing Scottish folk songs, predicting winners on the dogs and the horses, gently criticising the absurdities of political opinions and expounding the qualities of Wordsworth. He was an inspiring disciple of the Lord in word and example. He died peacefully in his sleep at West Middlesex hospital on Tuesday 23 March at 7pm. He was 87. He is sadly missed and remembered with deep affection by all who knew him.
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