Professor A. N. Maheshwari is a former Chairperson of the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE), INDIA. He was the Joint Director, National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) - 1994 to 1999; Head, Department of Education in Science and Mathematics, NCERT - 1993 - 1994; Vice Chancellor, Cochin University of Science and Technology - 1990-1993; Principal, Regional College of Education, Mysore - 1987 - 1990; Professor of Physics, Regional College of Education, Mysore - 1977 -1987; Associate Professor of Physics, Himachal Pradesh University - 1971 to 1977.
Amar Nath Maheshwari had his education at the University of Delhi and at the University of Chicago. He started his research career at the Enrico Fermi Institute, University of Chicago, and followed it by Visiting Scientist positions at the University of Tokyo and at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, Italy.
From Theoretical Physics to Physics Education
A major turning point in his career was his decision to gradually shift his academic interests from research in theoretical physics to education in general and physics education in particular. This was facilitated by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), which he joined in 1977 as Professor of Physics.He started his career as a teacher educator at the Regional College of Education, Mysore, one of the constituent units of the NCERT, which is, also, one of the premier teacher education institutions in the country. There he designed a course curriculum for preparing post-graduate teachers in physics. He became the Principal of that institution in 1987 and restructured teacher education courses such as the four-year B.Sc.Ed, B.A.Ed, and the M.Sc.Ed and brought them to conform to the requirements of the National Policy in Education (1986) and the National Curriculum Framework.
As an Educational Administrator
His reputation as a scientist-cum- educational administrator received recognition and in 1990 he was invited to the Cochin University of Science and Technology as its Vice Chancellor. He used his term as the Vice Chancellor of the University in restructuring its academic programs so as to make the specialised courses in science and technology relevant to the world of work. A conscious effort was made for providing interface between the academics and the practising professionals. He encouraged sponsored research and succeeded in bringing to the University grants for upgrading the research facilities and for the development of the infrastructure. This led to strengthening of the ongoing programs and introduction of many new teaching and research programs. In addition to his administrative experience as the Principal of the Regional College of Education, Mysore, he later worked as one of the Chief Executives of the NCERT for a period of five years as its Joint Director and was responsible for its administration and academic programs.
Innovative Contributions to School Education
One of his innovative contributions to teacher education is the use of satellite based teleconferencing for inservice education of primary school teachers. His pioneering experiment of organising training of 850 teachers in Karnataka, one of the States in the Southern India, by creating a state-wide classroom became a pacesetter in inservice education of primary school teachers.
For popularisation of science he directed the production of a video film on the total solar eclipse of 24 October 1995. He developed the script of the film around explanations of the various features of the cosmic event. He is an author of the NCERT's physics textbooks for classes XI and XII.
He carried out for the UNESCO several projects. One of these projects, called Technology in General Education, has provided a base for orienting general education curriculum as an approach for developing problem solving skills.
He has been taking keen interest in recent global trends in revamping of science and mathematics education in the context of global information society. He has written a concept paper on Smart Schools and prepared the blueprint for reorienting schools in India into smart schools.
Initiatives in promotion of Information Technology for School Sector
His major initiative in the NCERT was the promotion of use of the state-of-art information technology for school education. He planned and designed the Computer Resource Centre of the NCERT. He played a pace-setting role in promotion of use of the Internet in school education and in teacher education.
Other Contributions and Professional Associations
He has published a large number of research papers and monographs in theoretical physics. He writes articles on school education, science education and on issues of management of education.
He was an Associate of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, Italy; Visiting Professor of Mathematical Physics at the University of Texas at Austin; a Visiting Scientist at the Research Institute of Fundamental Physics, University of Kyoto; Associate, Interuniversity Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics; Associate of the University Grants commission. His research interests in theoretical physics have been Feynman path integration, gauge theories and unification of gravitation and electromagnetism, and elementary particle physics.