British PhDs (was:postdocs to faculty)

Sabine Dippel sabine at
Wed Aug 27 09:38:44 EST 1997

Okay, Bart and Karen, I guess here's a big misunderstanding going on, though 
I am not completely sure of this, since I don't know the English school system
so well. 

All I can say is that here in Germany, the subjects you cover in school before
University are, as much as I can see, far broader than in the US. Therefore, 
in a way the "general education" part you have in the first years of college
was already covered in "High school". 

Example: From 5th to 13th grade, I had
English 5 - 13
Latin 7-11
French 9-13
Math, German, History, Sports, Arts 5-13
Music 5-10
Physics 7-13
Chemistry 8-11
Biology 5-6 and 9-12

This was a perfectly normal german public high school and 
is a perfectly normal curriculum (choices are there mainly 12/13th grade,
and quite restricted, and as far as languages are concerned you can choose 
which language you want, but not if you want any at all - 2 foreign languages,
one at least from 7-11 grade, the other one at least from 5-12 grade are

When I went on a (though brief - 3 weeks) school exchange in the US, I found
that the curricula in high school varied immensely. The exchange was with 
a private high school in Pasadena (which you must know, Karen, it's Polytechnic
High school just across the street from Caltech), where people seemed to be 
maybe 0-1 year behind what we did at the same time in Germany. But this is a 
very expensive school and hard to get into as far as grades are concerned, as 
far as I know. One day, we visited a regular public High school in Pasadena, 
in an average neighbourhood - there I had the impression that in most subjects 
they were maybe 2-3 years behind compared to Germany (as far as Maths, Science,
Languages etc. go). 

So I simply want to say that maybe here we have the "general education" the
AVERAGE american student has after 2 years of college when we enter University.
So it makes sense to concentrate on the major (although nobody stops you from
shopping around - you can take as long as you please - something politicians 
would love to stop).

Oops, even though this may seem an abrupt stop - I have to leave, or I'll miss
my bus.


| Sabine Dippel     | e-mail: s.dippel at                  | 
| HLRZ              | phone : [++49] (2461) 61-2318                   | 
| FZ Juelich        | fax   : [++49] (2461) 61-2430                   | 
| 52425 Juelich     | WWW   : | 
| Germany           |                                                 | 

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