Howlers in Delhi University's foundation course syllabus have left students giggling

“A little bird in the sky drops its waste in your eye, you don’t mind and you don’t cry… you just thank God that cows can’t fly.” Positive thoughts such as these, says Delhi University, must be written down.

Well if this sounds insane to some, they only have themselves to blame. The university has a valid reason for including such statements in the syllabus for the foundation course under its new four-year undergraduate programme. “Optimistic statements keep unconstructive thoughts away and help us focus on our aspirations,” is the explanation provided in the chapter, “Beyond the Classroom”.

The fun doesn’t stop there. Other questions that those lucky enough to make it to some of the best colleges in the country are now facing include, “Do you have a foreign sounding nickname? Who gave it? How does it affect your personality?”

And under the chapter “The Location and Dislocation of Culture” they are being asked: “What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of living in a city? Did you grow up in a small town or city? Mark the location of your hometown on the map. How would you describe it?”

“All the lessons are to be read aloud,” said Rina Ramdev, an English teacher at Sri Venkateshwara College.

She said teachers were told that these lessons were all part of the “hands on teaching” that the new four-year course sought to encourage. “We were told that Shakespeare and literature were not things that most of the students would understand.”

Another English teacher, who has been teaching undergraduate college for many years now, went on to take her first class of the new term using the new textbook.

“I told my students that that I would allow them to start with whichever activity they chose, but as soon as I started reading off the activities, they started giggling. By the time, I read through the first four activities, they were laughing hard. I tried to control them and tell them that we have to do some of this and they asked me why don’t you just try?,” said Vinita Chandra from Ramjas College.

The Hindu found out who was responsible for this book. “They are all from the English department which is among the best in the country,” added Dr. Chandra.

Many DU teachers said the university’s explanation that this is part of the “remedial English” plan to teach better vocabulary to students rings hollow. These classes are not helping and the methodology is all wrong, but nobody is listening, they claimed.

More In: Delhi