CONCLUSIONS AND POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS CONCLUSIONS AND POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

  • There is a general consensus that, while a big emphasis is put in teaching numeracy and languages, there is a lack of STEM education in primary schools. This is regarded mainly due to two reasons: First, a lack of teacher training and second, an absence of technical support. The lack of teacher training makes primary teachers less confident in developing STEM lessons while the absence of materials and tools to build science activities hinders curriculum development. The reasons behind this situation can vary a lot -from a lack of government support to misunderstandings on how to implement primary education programmes- but the opinions regarding the end result are consistent throughout Europe.
  • Continuous professional development is an option to solve the problem of a lack of skilled professionals in the STEM area at a primary level. This should be answered through policy making at a regional or national level. Some argue that even a European common strategy would be beneficial, as it could profit from expertise at a wider level while using European structures that would minimize the burden a possible lack of local resources could entail. The downside of that strategy would be the possible omission of particular national needs.
  • Among the issues encountered when teaching STEM education at a primary level, there is one that still divides opinions. While it is unquestionable that kids have a natural eagerness to explore and discover the world, there are discrepancies on how to use that eagerness when teaching STEM. Some opinions worry that very young kids find it very difficult to understand abstract concepts that are necessary knowledge to further pursue science education. Others believe that students, in fact, “invent” the abstract concepts themselves, only in their own words. All in all, the widespread view is that, in early educational phases, the most significant skill to acquire is that of “the ability to learn”: Once kids have acquired that skill, they will be able to further understand concepts and develop theories on their own, to extrapolate, to find examples, to seek different methods. It is through this initial education that, once they are older, they will be able to reach that further level.
  • There is also a common agreement that ICT should be included in early schooling. Children nowadays grow up surrounded by technology and become familiar with it from a very early stage, to the point where using technology devises comes instinctively. In that way, it is indispensable that we use that initial knowledge and that we guide them to use it educationally. ICT can be very useful for children as it can contribute to their development at different levels: It can help them develop audition, visual and sensory senses, among others. Pupils can also learn to find content on their own and can be more involved in lessons becoming genuine active learners. At the same time, we should not forget ICT should act just as tool. It can be used transversally, for different subjects. It can, in fact, be integrated in the curriculum in many different forms. But, as a tool, it should serve didactic purposes and should never replace the role of the teacher.
  • As most STEM subjects are pyramidal (No further learning if the basics are not properly assimilated), the issue of the lower achievers is of great importance. Students who are left behind tend to be less motivated and soon or later they obtain a negative attitude towards the concerned subjects. Personalized lessons and monitoring can be of great help, as well as the opportunity to work with a reduced number of kids.
  • Teachers are mostly sceptical about standardized tests on primary schooling. While they can serve as guidance tools for teachers, they might not match the particular syllabus of each school.

 

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