Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Time to cut back by half

During last summer (from May to July), I helped a friend of mine with his summer undergrad
math course (MA 153), a first course on Algebra and Trigonometry. (Side Note: I've got to say
that even though he is a Management major, he went to top the class in this course - such was
his dedication to the course!)

Having done all my studies up to bachelor's through the education system in Sri Lanka, I
realize that this freshmen undergrad course here is very much similar to the preliminary material covered in Pure Mathematics (now Combined Mathematics) in Physical Science stream. We spent 3 years for Advanced Level (A/L) examination and then got selected to follow an engineering degree which usually takes another 4 years to complete. In between the two courses (A/L and Bachelor's) , we at least have to idle around for about 1 year. So, if you do the simple
math, it is going to be around 8 years; In USA what they achieve in 4 years, we take 8 years.

It is unfortunate to see that the transition from A/L to bachelor's not a well-planned smooth
one - some materials are repeated and some not used at all; there's little coordination
between two major courses. I think it is high time we combine these two courses together and
graduate young people when they approach 20's or early 20's so that they have ample opportunities both in academia and industry. (We first need to iron out practical issues in making such a fundamental change. Any change is quite difficult to initiate - it's the true nature of human kinds to resist changes, but the choice is ours - do we want to stagnate or progress?)

No comments: