A systematic approach
Team of Belarus State University won gold at International mathematics contest in Bulgaria
Today′s success of BSU students is of no surprise. Pavel Alekseevich MANDRIK, Dean of applied mathematics and computer science department, vice-principal for educational innovations and information technologies at BSU, told us how to plan a victory in intellectual contest.
— It is impossible to study mathematics in two or three years, just taking a school graduate and prepare him for the contest. Jobs offered to contestants are extremely diverse. Mathematical and functional analysis, linear algebra, theory of combinations, theory of functionsЎ There′s no way to drill in all those because math is not a specific subject to study and memorize, it is rather an abstract language. And one needs to be able to speak and think it like your native language, to think mathematical abstractions and functions. Thus, we start working with our potential students as early as in their 5th year at school, both intramural (in school for young mathematicians at university department) and extra-mural (sending jobs to all regional schools). This is not exam preparation, or coaching for testing, but deep studies of mathematics. About 3 thousand pupils gain knowledge at the department each year. We already know all our applicants beforehand. We have known Nikita Selinger since his 9th year at school. Victoria Lebed attented BSU Lyceum and was exempt from entrance examinations as a winner of math contest. This year 50 contest winners were enrolled without examinations. We have known all of them since school years.
— Is there a special curriculum for contest winners?
— There were various alternatives, and finally we decided that gifted students cannot be taught under uniform program. There should be individualized approach to each student. Sometimes we assign them personally and allow free attendance. But they mustn′t be grouped separately, for our objective is not only work with talented youth but maintain high level of education at the department in general. It very hard to study here. In return, each fourth graduate has a diploma with excellence.
— How do contest winners do after the university? Do you follow their further life?
— For instance, Ivan Losev, winner of International mathematics contest 2003, is completing his postgraduate course at Moscow State University. Alexander Usnich, another gold winner, studies at Institute of Mathematics of National Academy of sciense of Belarus and is planning to enter magistracy, works in close cooperation with Ecole Normal math school near Paris. Nikita Selinger keeps in touch with University of Bremen.