I was under the impression that with my math background (A-Level aka, AP Calc + AP Stats + the pre-reqs to these courses), I should be able to do fine. After a few recent posts in the "Who wants to be a mathematician..." thread, I was surprised as to how horrible I am. I knew that I had a fair bit of work to do before I could take on a rigorous math text but I thought that I was pretty good with algebra. It turns out I'm not and the odds are, most A-Level/IB students are not. It's fairly ironic that I can solve a first order differential equation but I can't prove that "sqrt2 + sqrt5 is irrational". I understand that the situation is quite dire in the States as well but considering I have no first hand experience, I cannot comment any further. I also stumbled upon something called "New Math" and have heard mathwonk and a reviewer on Amazon speak about an "experimental high school math class in the 60s". Could some light be shed on this? With A-Levels and International Baccalaureate, mathematics is mostly a "math methods" class, with very superficial understanding of the material involved. Relatively advanced topics like complex numbers and differential equations are covered as well. I gather that some European systems (Belgium, Holland, France, Germany, Russia) involve a lot of higher math and topics are covered with more rigour but again, I do not know for sure. After a few conversations with undergraduate and graduate Indian mathematics/physics students, I've come to conclude that while they cover a lot of material, more emphasis is placed on memorisation rather than on understanding. Rote learning is a practice that is adopted here as well, with the British A-Levels. However, according to older people I've spoken to, the curriculum was much harder in their day, i.e ~50 years ago, but I don't know what "harder" entails. Note that I'm not from the UK but from a country who uses the same high school qualifications as them. If anyone here has been through or is a student of other educational systems, I'd appreciate if you could contribute to this. So, when did things get dumbed down? Why? What could be done to better the situation? Or do you think things are fine as they are?