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Astronomical errors mar state board textbooks

mumbai Updated: Oct 20, 2012 00:51 IST
Bhavya Dore

Discrepancies, repetitions, errors and ambiguities are littered throughout chapters that feature astronomy in middle school state board textbooks, a science researcher has found.

Aniket Sule, faculty member at the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education in Mankhurd and the academic coordinator for the astronomy Olympiad, presented a talk at the institute on the matter on Thursday. He is also planning to send a detailed letter outlining the issues to the state board.

“Astronomy (is) a natural candidate to attract students towards science,” writes Aniket Sule in his article. “...There is a lot of repetition from year to year…. The books contain many ambiguous or erroneous statements.”

Sule analysed astronomy-related content in geography and science textbooks for Classes 5, 6, 7 and 8, produced by Bal Bharti. He has said errors range from conceptual flaws to poor phrasing. “These errors are very drastic,” he said. “Astronomy is not getting its due credit.”

For instance, one of the chapters says that the “moon does not revolve around the sun directly” but does so only indirectly. However, in reality, the moon revolves primarily around the sun, and its orbit is perturbed by the earth. In another instance, the book mentions that the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has launched 21 satellites, an outdated figure which in reality is at least 30 (see box).

Sule’s piece ends with recommendations, which include better coordination between writers of physics and geography textbooks, and an independent review to weed out language-related problems.

Bal Bharti, which produces the textbooks, has however said no errors have been brought to its notice so far. “These textbooks have been in use for the past several years,” said S Jadhav, the director. “No one has pointed out any issues till now. However, if someone has suggestions they can send them in and we will take a look at it for the new textbooks.”