Mukul Sahgal can be best described as ‘calm and inviting’ when he speaks about his way of writing child-friendly school textbooks. The Progressive Teacher meets up with this editor-turned science author who shares some interesting facts about himself and his array of popular ‘child-friendly’ science textbooks among which S. Chand’s Awareness Science series deserves special mention.
Science books written by Mukul Sahgal have been recommended for school curricula at primary, middle and secondary levels. His books are ‘child-friendly’ as he explains in a very simple manner complicated science theories by connecting them to common examples of day-to-day activities which children can easily comprehend. Mukul has written a number of books published by reputed Indian and overseas publishers. Of them, Awareness Science by S. Chand is one of the popular series included in the syllabi of various schools all over the country.
‘Empirical approach’– this is what Mukul uses to construct the chapters/lessons of his science books. ‘My approach is to lead the students (readers) into a given direction, teaching them science in a very simple language first and scientifically later on,’ he explains, adding ‘Inappropriate use of scientific terminology and notations in basic lessons create nothing but a wrong notion of science being a difficult subject for young school children.’ He further explains that science is found in everything around us; we should not alienate it when we teach our children about it. His overall idea of the content of a textbook is not merely a compilation of some facts and figures. Simple language, inspiring explanation and relevant real-life examples are vital ‘attributes’ of a good textbook.
A brief flashback of Mukul’s professional life dates back to the year 1974 when he finished M Sc in Physics from the Allahabad University. After that, he spent three years in research on semi-conductor devices at the Central Electronic Engineering Institute in Pilani, Rajasthan. He explored the world of books when he worked as editor with Orient Longman. ‘My days in Orient Longman inspired me to write books for school children in the early 1990s,’ recalls Mukul. So far, he has authored around twenty books in science and mathematics among which are popular science reference books as well as textbooks, such as S. Chand’s Awareness Science series designed perfectly for KG to Class V.
Mukul has conducted over 100 workshops for teachers on teaching methodology in science and mathematics across India and overseas in countries like Nepal, Thailand and UAE. He has contributed a chapter on ‘Basic Teaching Methodology’ in the book Let’s Learn to Teach published by The Times of India. He, also, regularly delivers lectures on ‘School Textbook Publishing’ at short-term publishing courses organised by the National Book Trust, India. ‘Introduction of new patterns in curriculum and modern teaching methodologies in our current education system has brought in several positive changes. Continuous and comprehensive evaluation (CCE) norm is a big revolution indeed,’ remarks Mukul. He ‘however’ opines that CCE in India has not yet been implemented in a manner it should be due to the lack of quality training for teachers.
‘Whether you are writing books for children or teaching in a school, the foremost thing you must do first is to put yourself in the shoes of the children,’ says Mukul. He states that committed and well-trained teachers are the need of the hour in our current education system. For those aspiring to writing books for children, Mukul has a piece of advice, ‘Be child-centric first before attempting to author any book for children or young people. If the author does not feel the way a child feels, his or her books will not be able to lift up the spirit of the young readers to guide them to a given direction.’