Two valuable books on History for students | Sunday Observer
Book review:

Two valuable books on History for students

20 September, 2020

Rare things of any sort, be they be books, entities , objects or other similar items are more precious and valuable than common and ordinary things and items. Thus, the Atlas of History authored and compiled by Sarathchandra Jayawardene for students from grades four to eight is a book of rarity with a contemporary importance attached to it.

History is the study of the mass wealth of past information on various subjects including the human species and its origin, its evolution and development in particular. Information on the life style of early man and the problems they faced and how they managed to solve them successfully are studied in schools by students under the subject of History. With the advent of homosapiens, their political, economic, social, ethical and cultural information has been subsumed into the scope of the learning/ teaching process of History.

This vast volume of knowledge and information spread in a wide time-frame has been adapted and adjusted in this book by its author to suit the general education and the level of the children. It is accompanied by beautiful and attractive pictorial illustrations to help children study historical information easily and without stress and this publication is the first of its kind.

This interesting and fascinating publication will be greatly conducive and helpful to foster and consolidate the knowledge and information found in syllabi and text books prescribed for respective grades and it will be a fillip and a source of inspiration for the students to commit them to memory easily.

From the solar system to the development of civilisation information has been illustrated by attractive and absorbing pictures and maps. Information on the origin of man, his life style, his hunting of animals and the tools used for it, how the world’s first civilisations sprang up associated with river valleys and how it developed through agrarian life styles and a host of other important information has been presented in this book through captivating artwork, pictorials and graphic medium supported by short notes. Therefore, this book makes interesting reading and learning for the students.

Next, the author makes an attempt to present information on Sri Lanka, its geographical location, the Indian influence on it, its original settlers and aborigines and interesting folk lore and parables associated with them and narratives of Rama-Ravana, Singhabahu and Sinhaseevali and the arrival of Prince Vijaya to Sri Lanka in particular, all of which have been fully supplemented and appended by relevant pictures so that students are voluntarily compelled to read and enjoy them at a stretch looking at the pictures.

It is said that Aryans from India established settlements in river valleys in Sri Lanka and engaged in farming. As they had rainfall only at a particular point in time, the process of building tanks and reservoirs for storing and preserving water and using it with frugality for irrigation management has been aptly illustrated by pictures and maps. The subsequent stages of development that took place in the irrigation industry with vast tanks being built with the help of our own endemic traditional knowledge and technology has been depicted and manifested in an appealing a manner through pictographs and pictograms.

Through this valuable information, students are able to garner the local traditional knowledge and technology used and the marvellous know-how and engineering feats that our ancestors had centuries ago. They also can develop a sense of pride about our country through understanding the high level of proficiency and mastery of our knowledge of technology and science.

Next, comes the information on kings who ruled in Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Yapahuwa, Kurunegala, Gampola, Kotte and Mahanuwara kingdoms and the roles played by them and the related concise history and relevant maps.

The book deals with the renaissance in Europe and the advent of scientific development and the changes that took place as a result of it and the invasion of Eastern countries by Europeans via sea routes in particular and Sri Lanka being subjected to foreign domination as a result of it, All of this has been briefly described in this Compendium of History.

The special feature of this book titled Atlas of History is that its content has been well organised and presented in such a way that the students can absorb and grasp them all easily and can also do self-study with it. This book has been published by Sarasavi Publications Ltd.

Learning history from museums

The author, Sarathchandra Jayawardene who has rendered an immense and invaluable service to the field of education has on an earlier occasion too published several informative and very educative books for the students and other readers. Among them was the recently published Museum Pragmatism for Teaching and Learning History which is the one and only Sinhala text book written and meant for the students for the study of museum education. In addition to the knowledge gained by visiting museums, important and vital information on museum education has been subsumed into this book.

Since his service as a Chief Project Officer employed at the National Institute of Education at Maharagama, Sarathchandra Jayawardene has been an active and very dynamic officer who has participated with a very keen interest in the compilation of school text books in the Department of Educational Publications.

He has also served as an active member with great dedication on the Boards, Advisory Councils and Board of Editors for designing, preparation and planning of syllabi for the past published text books on Social Studies, History, Study of Maps and Exercises and Geography.

The use of this booklet of 108 pages printed in fine and glossy colourful papers with relevant pictures will undoubtedly make the study of history very popular and fascinating.

Ranjanie Senanayake,
Rtd. Additional Commissioner,
Department of Educational Publications,

(Translated by Neil Jayasinghe, Lecturer, University of Kelaniya.)