Born in a 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 jots 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 person with a warm smile.
A famous writer, whose books sell like hot cakes among students of class IX-XII, 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 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 Mathematics. 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 connect and implement what they learn. “If the classrooms are interactive and the teacher uses real-life models, students will automatically develop an interest in the subject. Teachers need to find the pulse of the students and customise the content as per the ability,” says Sharma.
Regular practice is the main key to gain mastery over the subject. The thickness of his books often frightens the students, but for Sharma, each topic needs sufficient explanation. “That’s 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 Indian author based on 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 the subject 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 Mathematics books. As soon as I wake up early morning all I think of is Math problems and its solution which ultimately find a place in my books,” says Sharma, who has a fetish to write with his favourite Uniball black pen.