About the event

One of the expected outcomes of schooling is that it should prepare young people for their futures. However, the nature of this future has changed and is changing: from a world with relative stability of knowledge communicated by books to one in which we are inundated by rapidly evolving knowledge through the medium of modern technology; from workplaces where application of procedures was controlled by hierarchy and regulations to new modes of working that require employees to explore situations and solve problems; from a world of seemingly unbounded natural resources to one in which limited possibilities and truly global challenges are all too evident.

A simple, but not at all trivial consequence of this is: Mathematics and science education has to change in response to these needs. For this reason, the European project PRIMAS in the 7th Framework Programme (Capacities, Science in society, Young people and science) has worked for four years to disseminate and implement inquiry-based learning approaches in classrooms.  The project has made an impact on a large number of teachers across twelve countries.

There are, however, challenges a project like PRIMAS alone cannot tackle. For example, how can teachers implement inquiry-based learning when high-stake examinations do not value the knowledge, skills and outcomes that result, or when society at large sees no need for changing mathematics and science education?

The PRIMAS event in Brussels presented a vision of young peoples’ educational needs that better prepares them for the future, and outlined what a project such as PRIMAS can, and has achieved towards making this vision reality. Core to this conference was an opportunity to reflect on the systemic challenges any implementation activity of this nature has to face and the related policy implications. As we consider and draw on our PRIMAS experiences, we illustrated potential ways forward for future initiatives towards the Horizon 2020 vision.