By, Terri Accomazzo, Acquisitions Editor, Education and Media Studies and Amy Lammers, Associate Marketing Manager at SAGE
Dr. Richard Gargiulo is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he won the University’s President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, and a former Fulbright Scholar to the Czech Republic. He is a past president of both the Division of International Special Education and Services and the Division on Autism and Development Disabilities at the Council for Exceptional Children. Dr. Gargiulo has been a SAGE author for over 8 years and writes one of SAGE’s best-selling textbooks, Special Education in Contemporary Society: An Introduction to Exceptionality.
Dr. Gargiulo was kind enough to take time out of his busy day to discuss with us his experience in writing successful textbooks, his passion for education, and what it means to him to win a ‘Texty’ (Textbook Excellence Award) from the Text and Academic Authors Association (TAA).
Q: What advice would you give to your colleagues interested in authoring textbooks?
I believe it is important for authors to know their subject matter and to have a passion for what they are writing about. It is also important to be cognizant of your audience, who you are writing for– professionals or undergraduate students. Finally, be meticulous in everything you do; after all, it is your name on the cover.
It is vital to incorporate user feedback in the revisions of any textbook. Getting feedback from other professors not only provides an opportunity to connect with your readers, but helps ensure we’re including all the most important updates in the field. For example, reader feedback established the need for content on assistive technology, giving way to a new chapter on the topic for the fifth edition. Connecting with my readers has also contributed to the inclusion of content on the CEC standards, a Spanish glossary, and non-scripted classroom videos.
Q: When writing textbooks, how do you balance your unique perspective on the field with established pedagogy?
My intention in writing Special Education in Contemporary Society is to provide instructors and students with a readable, research-based text that also stresses learning in inclusive settings and classroom application. By blending theory with practice, my aim is to provide preservice educators and practicing professionals with the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and beliefs that are so crucial to constructing learning environments that allow all students to reach their full potential. I also want to portray the “human” side of special education. The field of special education is about children and their families—their frustrations and fears—but perhaps more importantly, it is about their accomplishments, successes, and triumphs. To me, special education is real. I personally live with it on a daily basis—it is my passion.