"The diagnosis of a very grim and alarming state of European science education has been set before, but the methods on how to surpass the current situation have not been analysed yet. So, this is the novelty of our report," explained Semmelweis University Professor Péter Csermely, member of the expert group, in an interview with EurActiv.com.
The major conclusion of the report entitled 'Science education NOW: A renewed pedagogy for the future of Europe' is the need "to change the way in which teachers are working and convince them to change their pedagogical methods", explained Csermely. This change implies a shift from the traditional, mainly deductive science-teaching pedagogy to inquiry-based methods ('learning by doing method') to combat young people's waning interest in science.
Indeed, a recent Eurydice study on 'Science Teaching in Schools in Europe' highlights the role of science teachers in linking theory and practice of teaching and helping pupils develop 'a scientific way of thinking'. According to the report, practical work contributes a great deal to pupils' capacity to learn science and allows them to develop more complex cognitive skills. However, current science teaching in the EU is referred to as having a more "stereotypical" approach to practical activities.
Another of the expert group report's six recommendations is to encourage schools' relationships with companies, cities and other informal education stakeholders to implement the inquiry-based science-education methods.
"International companies have an increasing interest in supporting science education as they seriously lack highly educated and skilled engineers," said Csermely, adding that some European company initiatives already exist. "Companies can organise visits for both primary and secondary schools and provide internships for secondary-school students and teachers. In addition, they can provide financial help for novel science- education projects at schools or districts or help spread the successful projects in other countries."
"We also suggested to put up a European Science Education Advisory Board as a continuous forum to supervise, network and re-initiate various information exchanges between teachers in the EU-27. The timetable for the establishment of the board has not been set yet but I think it will be operating before the end of 2007."