The name RD Sharma is enough to make the average student feel a chill down the spine. Ravi Dutt Sharma’s Math guidance books are nothing less than Bible for students aiming to crack engineering entrance exams.
Born in the family of a farmer in Rajasthan, Sharma was not allowed to sleep until he would recite the table upto 40. The habit persisted, as the 61-year-old prefers morning time to think of equations, frame them during his morning walk and jot it down as soon as he is back. For all those who would picture him as an astute and strict teacher sitting in a room surrounded by several shelves stuffed with math books, will be in for a surprise to meet a humble man with a warm smile.
A famous writer, whose books sell like hot cakes among students of class IX-XII, Sharma objects to the ‘mathematician’ tag. “I do not consider myself a mathematician but someone who just got lucky to be good in the subject. However, I am definitely a good teacher and that is what I like to be addressed as,” he says. A teacher by choice and author by accident, Sharma started his career as a lecturer at RR College, Alwar, in 1981. This was followed by a working as a professor at Banasthali Vidyapeeth for six years before he finally joined the Department of Training and Technical Education, Government of Delhi. Currently, working as a vice principal of Aryabhatt Institute of Technology, New Delhi, where he teaches Mathematics to students from all strata of society. “This makes me understand the problems faced by an average student that I address in my books.”
“Any student, whether a topper or a backbencher, can learn Math. It all depends on the way the subject is delivered by the instructor,” says Sharma.
The trepidation of the subject arises from the lack of real-life examples through which students can implement what they learn. “If the classrooms are interactive and teachers use real-life models, students will automatically develop an interest in the subject. Teachers need to know the pulse of the students and customise the content as per their abilities,” says Sharma.
Regular practice is the key to gain mastery over the subject. The thickness of his books frightens the students, but for Sharma, each topic needs sufficient explanation. “That is my style of teaching. I try to include every possible aspect of a subject included in the book so that the students can practice a lot,” he says.
It was by sheer chance that he forayed into the world of writing books. While pursuing a PhD from Rajasthan University in 1986, a senior professor who would use his curated notes on linear algebra, passed away. At the time there was a no book in the subject penned by an Indian author based on the Indian curriculum. Sharma, who was a gold medallist, was roped in to write a standard Indian textbook. The book became an instant hit and there was no looking back. Till now, Sharma has authored 25 reference books for K-12, entrance exams as well as engineering students.
Growing up in a small village of Rajasthan, Bhoopkhera in Behror tehsil, the love for Math in Sharma was first inculcated by his father who never went to school. By the age of nine, Sharma had not only mastered the tables but also knew the square roots and cube roots of numbers till 20. “I am passionate about reading only Math books. As soon as I wake up early in the morning, all I think of is Math problems and its solutions which ultimately find a place in my books,” says Sharma, who has a fetish for writing with his favourite Uniball black pen.