News on High Ability
15th International ECHA Conference, Vienna, 2-5 March 2016
The 15th ECHA Conference took place in Vienna from 2-5 March 2016. Location of the conference was the Hall of Science: “Aula der Wissenschaften”. Given the long tradition of education and migration in many European countries, the topics of multiculturalism and intercultural exchange are key priorities on the educational agenda, as well as being natural prerequisites for peaceful co-existence in the 21st century. Giftedness and high potential in a multicultural society is also a topic most relevant and of high interest all over Europe. The title of the conference was thus chosen to be “Talents in Motion: Encouraging the Gifted in the context of Migration and Intercultural Exchange”.
Talents and high abilities are equally distributed among all cultural, ethnic, religious and socio-economic groups. Therefore, potentials and abilities of children, youngsters and young adults with a migration background need to be specially advanced. Thus, the ECHA Conference 2016 focused on the intercultural and multicultural awareness of educating the (highly) gifted. The conference aimed to initiate the encounter of science, research and practice and wished to promote the interdisciplinary exchange: presentations, workshops and symposia from pedagogy, psychology, society, religion, science, philosophy, arts and culture. The themes were:
- Talent promotion as a contribution to personal, social and cultural development
- Ethnic diversity as a value in society and education
- Minorities: aspects and equal chances in talent promotion
- Talent promotion and linguistic competence.
It was organized by Thomasianum Department for Gifted Education and Innovation Vienna (TIBI, Thomasianum Institut für Begabungsentwicklung und Innovation) in cooperation with the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy.
The opening speaker was Robert Sternberg (USA) and other speakers were, among others: Camilla Benbow (USA), George Betts (USA), Roland Grabner (Austria), Evelyn Kroesbergen (the Netherlands), Margrit Stamm (Switzerland), Heidrun Stöger (Germany) and Rena Subotnik (USA).
There was a large amount of 609 participants, mostly from Austria of course (231), but also large groups from Germany and the Netherlands and even from as far away as Kazakhstan, Thailand and Sierra Leone.
“The 15th International ECHA Conference in Vienna was the site of the first international panel on topics of global concern related to gifted education. The session was designed for both European and non-European conference participants to compare views and best practices associated with talent support across various continents. (..) The session elicited a large audience and many commented about how little ECHA participants know about the basic structure of other countries’ educational systems and how those systems serve their most talented and vulnerable students.”
(ECHA News vol. 30 no. 1 Spring 2016)
The theme “Talents in Motion” was present in many ways, as Elisabeth Schweiger (Institute TIBI, Austria) describes:
“Before the Conference started, there had been motion in the Institute TIBI together with the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy and our other Austrian partners – a motion felt within Austria to bring the Conference alive. Over 500 participants from all over the world (more than 50 countries) became part of the Conference – motion brought them together. The event combined two essential social and pedagogical issues: gifted education as well as migration and intercultural exchange.
By physical motion the Conference moved from Vienna to Krems on day 3. The speeches, posters, presentations and vibrant discussions concerning giftedness were driven by an immanent flow set off by the presenters and passed on by the participants.
There is a chance that the Conference will further cause motion in the future through the participants who profited by the event, to their students, colleagues and partners - keeping the motion of the Conference alive. It was a great honour for the Institute TIBI to host the ECHA Conference 2016 and a pleasure to welcome you in Vienna.”
(Elisabeth Schweiger, TIBI)
As this report of the Talencenter Budapest shows, the conference was a big success:
“The ECHA Conference 2016 not only highlighted intellectual abilities but also addressed the many faces of intelligences and talents and that make a society thrive. The conference’s scope was interdisciplinary: experts from education, psychology, society, religion, economics, philosophy, culture and many more convened in Vienna to present their research findings and propose practical ideas.
In the poster section there was a Hungarian success, Balázs Hornyák’s poster “Musical Talent Balance Model in the Mirror of Music Competitions” got one of the awards for the Best Poster Presentation. The award is based on the votes of the participants and that fact gives a special value to it.”
(Report on http://talentcenterbudapest.eu/content/echa-conference-2016)
In Vienna Péter Csermely was re-elected as the President of ECHA.
This is how a Greek participan, whose first ECHA experience was the Vienna conference, remembers:
“Taking part in a conference was a new experience for me and I feel really lucky that the 15th ECHA conference in Vienna gave me this opportunity. My first impression and most decisive was the sense of hospitality and intimacy that the organizing team conveyed to participants. The warm environment of the Hall of Science, the smiling faces of people working at the welcoming point helped me from the beginning to feel part of this conference. Most of all, I feel grateful that I had the opportunity to meet fellows from around the world to exchange experiences and new research ideas.”
(Athina Papakonstantinou, ECHA news vol. 30 no. 1 Spring 2016)
A video announcement is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOkT11-fjyc
14th International ECHA Conference, Ljubljana, 17-20 Sep 2014
In 2014 the conference was held in Ljubljana, Slovenia, from September 17–20. The title of the conference was: “Rethinking Giftedness: Giftedness in the Digital Age”. Through an examination of current theory, research and practice the conference aimed to explore the possibilities and challenges that the “digital age” offers to the education of the gifted across the lifespan. In addition the conference aimed to highlight current trends in research and practice considering how to best support and nurture giftedness now and in the future.
The conference was held in the hotel Four Points by Sheraton.
There were five keynote lectures and six keynote speakers, as follows: Joan Freeman (UK) and Péter Csermely (Hungary): “Discussion on the Past, Present and Future of ECHA”, Albert Ziegler (Germany): “An overdue step into the future: Gifted education goes digital”, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (USA): “Creativity in the Digital Age” (video conference), Norbert Jaušovec (Slovenia): “The Gifted Brain” and Marta Fulop (Hungary): “Do Contests and Competition Enrich or Ruin the Life of the Gifted?”. In addition, there were also nine invited speakers: Sheyla Blumen (Peru), Jasna Cvetković Lay (Croatia), Csilla Fuszek (Hungary), Lianne Hoogeveen (The Netherlands), Martin Kubala (The Czech Republic), Slavica Marsić (Serbia), Peter Merrotsy (Australia), Carrie Winstely (UK) and Frank Worrell (USA).
The introductory lecture, which followed the opening ceremony, was team based. It was moderated by Margaret Sutherland, a long-time member of ECHA and a member of the ECHA executive committee. The lecture featured Joan Freeman, founding president of the ECHA and Péter Csermely, the current ECHA president. Joan Freeman focused on the very beginning of the ECHA and vividly walked through the three decades of ECHA work, while Péter Csermely presented the modern vision of ECHA which was based on stimulating future research and professional work, collaboration and social networking.
“I am sure that this 14th ECHA Conference will make ECHA even stronger and happier. My vision is to make this enrichment of ECHA a self-maintaining process, where young talents of our days will serve as teachers, mentors, role models of the future talented generations and will strengthen ECHA maintaining its high standards and multi-coloured traditions. Ultimately, we need to build a talent-friendly continent here in Europe.“
(Péter Csermely, President of ECHA)
The evening lecture on Thursday the 18th was delivered by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, one of the founders of positive psychology, who - through a video conference - discussed his positive view on the role and influence of the digital age on the evolution of creativity as the central human activity.
“In this well-attended conference, 250 different experts from 40 countries participated. During the four days, the educators, teachers, psychologists, pedagogues, university professors, and researchers delivered 186 research and professional contributions, among them 7 practical demonstrations, 8 workshops, 29 posters, 15 contributions within 4 symposiums, and 113 individual papers within 31 thematic sections. Two additional meetings were organized as well. The first was aimed at the possibilities ECHA organisation can offer for the international cooperation in educating teachers for working with gifted students. The second addressed (under)graduate students in the methodology of researching giftedness and the students were able to discuss open issues with established researchers from the entire world. In addition, the 2014 General Assembly was held on the second day of the conference and ECHA members agreed that ECHA supports, regulates and guides the formation of a European Talent Support Network.”
During this conference rewards were given for the presentations on posters, which aimed at giving more support to this type of contributions due to the fact that posters are mostly delivered by younger researchers, original preliminary research presenters or the most recent innovations in learning and teaching practice.
13th International ECHA Conference, Münster, 12-15 Sep 2012
The 13th International Conference with the topic "Giftedness Across the Lifespan" took place from 12 to 15 September 2012 in Münster, Germany, and ran simultaneously with the 4th Münsterscher Bildungskongress with the topic “Begabungsförderung von der frühen Kindheit bis ins Alter” (Talent promotion from the early childhood to seniority).
Münster, as a university and hanseatic town, ranks among the most beautiful and deeply steeped in tradition congress locations throughout Germany. The University of Münster with its historic castle offered a superb setting right in the city centre.
Keynote speakers were Prof. Dr. Nicholas Colangelo (USA), Prof. Dr. Margrit Stamm (Schweiz), Prof. Dr. David Henry Feldman (USA), Prof. Dr. Joseph S. Renzulli (USA), Prof. Dr. Péter Csermely (Hungary), Prof. Dr. Rena Subotnik (USA), Prof. Dr. Kirsi Tirri (Finland) and Prof. Dr. Heidrun Stöger (Deutschland).
A striking number of approximately 1,100 delegates from 43 different countries from five continents came together in Münster for both conferences; scientists as well as other representatives from various ministries, school administrators and managers and those responsible for teacher training and further education were part of the conference. In addition, numerous dedicated teachers and educational staff of day care centres and kindergartens, (learning) therapists and therapists, psychologists, and interested parents participated enthusiastically.
In Münster Péter Csermely was elected President of ECHA and took over from Kirsi Tirri.
“Very memorable has been the dimension of the conference. The heterogeneous composition of the delegates highlighted the different perspectives: approximately 1,100 delegates from 43 different countries from five continents. On top of that more than 500 presentations – from the keynote speeches to poster presentations – resulted in an extensive and diversified program. Consequently this ECHA Conference took international dimensions comparable to the WCGTC conferences. Moreover, the 13th International ECHA Conference “Giftedness Across the Lifespan” was a real success. The exceptional evaluation of the conference organisation and the rating of the programme by the participants underline this impression. The city of Münster awarded this conference with the “Kongresspreis 2012” (conference award 2012) for the first time.”
“The team of Prof. Dr. Christian Fischer was honoured with the “Conference Award by the City of Münster” for hosting the 13th International ECHA Conference. (…) As the conference was attended by 1100 participants from 43 countries of all 5 continents, Münsters Conference Initiative expressed their gratitude by rewarding the conference team for hosting an excellence conference and therefore promoting the city internationally.”
Javier Tourón has shared an interesting report on his website:
“This week, in 2012, we are in Münster. (…) The program is very interesting, as it always is. It is a scientific conference, but ideas and work are available for those who aren’t specialized in science. (…)
In this picture you can find the composition of the symposium I am participating in. I have to tell you you can participate through Twitter Live, in line with the theme of the symposium. (…) In this link you will have access to the program and presentations of the people participating in this symposium: https://giftedphoenix.wordpress.com/2012/09/02/contributions-to-the-echa-conference-symposium-on-social-media-and-gifted-education/"
(Javier Tourón's webpage)
It was wonderful to see how people did actually use Twitter Live to participate in this symposium on Social media and giftedness!
A video report of this conference by The Global Center for Gifted and Talented Children is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNWBYFqfY68&feature=youtu.be
And a video-announcement by Bildung und Begabung is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WY9sOSonPoY
12th International ECHA Conference, Paris, 7-9 July 2010
In 2010 it was agreed to hold the 12th ECHA conference in the beautiful city of Paris. Purpose was to showcase the latest research on children with high potential and present different educational experiences for these children, and to bring together specialists from around the world; it was a key event for accessing up-to-date knowledge on the topic and networking with specialists. The conference was held on 7-9 July 2010 and the title was “Perspectives on the evaluation of giftedness: from Binet to today“.
The conference was organized with presentations in English and French and took place at the Institute of Psychology of Université Paris Descartes.Chairman was Todd Lubart, who worked together with Maria Perreira-Fradin.
“On the 7-9 July 2010, the 12th ECHA International Conference will take place at the university Paris Descartes. Bringing together world known specialists on the subject of giftedness, the ECHA biannual conference has become a fundamental event for advancing the state of knowledge on giftedness and presenting innovative methods in gifted education. This year, the main theme of the conference will be “Perspectives on the evaluation of giftedness: from Binet to today”. Invited speakers are respected specialists on giftedness and talent both from the United States and Europe. They include Dr. Carol Dweck, professor at Stanford University, USA, and specialist in gifted education, Dr. Franzis Preckel, Chair of Gifted Research and Education at the University of Trier, Germany, Dr. Jacques Grégoire, professor at the University of Louvain, Belgium, and specialist in issues concerning identification of the gifted. Other invited speakers will be Dr. Javier Touron, professor at the University of Navarra, Spain, post-president of ECHA and founder of the Spanish Centre for Talented Youth, Dr. Roland Persson, professor in Education at Jönköping University, Sweden, Dr. Ugur Sak, professor and director of the Division of Gifted Education at Anadolu University, Turkey. As it will take place in France, we have also invited French specialists to present the state of affairs in giftedness and talent research and practice in France. For example, Dr. Pascale Planche, professor at the University of Brest will present her research of the cognitive development of gifted children. Dr. Marcel Rufo, child psychiatrist and professor at the University of Marseille medical school will present his work with gifted children in his clinical practice and finally, Dr. Sylvie Tordjman, child psychiatrist and professor at the University of Rennes will present her work at the French Centre for Gifted in Difficulty in Rennes, of which she is the director and founder. This centre is the first and only of its kind in France.”
(Maria Pereira-Fradin, ECHA News vol. 24 no. 1 April 2010)
“The conference venue is the Faculty of Psychology, opened in 1999, which usually receives 4,500 students in the humanities, primarily in psychology. In July, classes are completed and the building is available to host the conference. The oldest and largest library of psychology in France is located in our faculty. It has funds of Henry Pieron’s private library and regularly inherits archives of our most important researchers and psychologists.”
(Maria Pereira-Fradin, ECHA News vol. 24 no. 1 April 2010)
Approximately 300 participants from 37 countries attended the conference. Keynote speakers were Prof. Dr. Ernst Hany (Germany), Prof. Carol Dweck (USA), Prof. Françoys Gagné (Canada) and Prof. Javier Tourón (Spain).
There was a short film made at this conference, which can be viewed through this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCiBHZ69lXc
11th International ECHA Conference, Prague, 16-20 Sep 2008
The 11th ECHA conference was held in Prague, September 16 – 20, 2008. The title of the conference was “From Giftedness in Childhood to Successful Intelligence in Adulthood”. A title well thought through, as was stated in the announcement in ECHA News:
“Throughout the international study of giftedness, one of the most repeated issues is whether our work bears fruit for society. In other words, many of our research questions lead to the essential one, and that is whether the efforts of educational and counselling support of our gifted children finally lead them to both personal and professional success.”
(Jitka Fořtíková, ECHA News vol. 20 no. 2 November 2006)
It was organized by the international organizing committee, which was established at the ECHA General Committee meeting in Lahti (2006) and consisted of Franz J. Mönks (president of ECHA), Johanna Raffan (secretary of ECHA), Kirsi Tirri, Javier Tourón, Christian Fischer and Sheyla Blumen and supplemented by Jana Jurášková and Daniela Ostatníková.
Chairman of the conference was Jitka Fořtíková from the Centre of Giftedness in Prague.
There was an enormous variety in countries represented: on the name list there were 268 participants from a stunning 45 different countries. Not only from all over Europe, but all the other continents were represented as well: Asia (Indonesia, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Korea, Taiwan) Australia (Australia and New Zealand), North and South America (USA, Canada, Peru, Chile, Brazil) and Africa (Cameroon, Nigeria and Sierra Leone). For sure many miles have been travelled!
Keynote speakers were Robert J. Sternberg (USA), Kimberley L. Chandler (USA) and Diane Montgomery (UK). Invited speakers were Willy Peters (the Netherlands), Daniela Ostatnikova (Slovakia), Stanislav Zelenda (Czech Republic), Christian Fischer (Germany), Todd Lubart (France) and Jana Jurášková (Slovakia).
|9,30 - 10,30||Preconference workshops
- Joe Renzulli, Sally Reis
- jana Jurášková
|Half-day Tour to Karlstejn Castle|
|10,40 - 11,40||Preconference workshops
- Joe Renzulli, Sally Reis
- Johanna Raffan, Diane Montgomery
Todd Lubart, Daniela Ostatniková
Christian Fischer, Willy Peters
Jana Jurášková, Stanislav Zelenda
|Half-day Tour to Karlstejn Castle|
|12,00 - 13,00||paper sessions||paper sessions||Closing Ceremony|
|13,00 - 14,30||LUNCH||LUNCH||LUNCH||LUNCH||Buffet LUNCH|| Walking Tour
round Prague Castle District
|14,30 - 15,50|| Walking Tour
round Prague Castle District
| Walking Tour
in Prague and Half-day Tours round CR
|paper sessions I.||paper sessions I.|| Walking Tour
in Prague and Half-day Tours round CR
| Walking Tour
round Prague Castle District
|16,15 - 17,35||Walking Tour
round Prague Castle District
in Prague and Half-day Tours round CR
|paper sessions II.,
2 discussion forums (Successfull Intellingence, Where we are going in GE)
|paper sessions II.,
2 discussion forums
Online Teaching and E-learning)
in Prague and Half-day Tours round CR
|19,00 - 21,00||Welcome Drink Reception at hotel Mövenpick||Boat Cruise on Vltava river or Chamber Concert at Villa Bertramka||(19,30)Conference Dinner at the Municipal House|
Outline of the conference program
In Prague Kirsi Tirri was elected President of ECHA. She took over from Franz J. Mönks, who had been President for 12 years (1992-2000, 2004-2008). A unique picture was taken:
“The major purposes of the International Conference were to present an outstanding scientific program and to promote international exchange. The Organizing Committee of ECHA 2008 had selected world renowned researchers and educationalists as keynote speakers and invited performers. All invited speakers and conveners represented the fields of psychology and education related to the issues of supporting the gifted children. They came from all over Europe but also from overseas areas. In addition to symposia, thematic oral sessions, and interactive poster sessions, we introduced a new format in Prague that we hoped would stimulate discussion during the meeting. Thematic Debates focused on topics that were both inherently important and interesting to all of us as psychologists, teachers and parents - successful intelligence, the future of ECHA, ICT in gifted Education and Underachievement. The debates took place once a day at a prominent time slot and were chaired by the most experienced scientists in the field - Robert Sternberg, Johanna Raffan, Stanislav Zelenda and Diane Montgomery. We also introduced the main three-day conference by the two-day pre-conference workshops by which we hoped to attract mainly the teachers involved in gifted education in the European region. (…) We would like to thank all the speakers of the conference, all the members of the organising team and to ECHA International for providing an opportunity to organize and happen this outstanding scientific conference in the Czech Republic. I strongly believe our country will benefit from its outcomes for a long time.”
(Jitka Fořtíková, Chairman)
The website is available at this link: http://www.echa.cz/
10th International ECHA Conference, Lahti, 13-16 Sep 2006
“In my own name as President of ECHA, and on behalf of our General Committee, I am delighted to announce you that our Board has accepted your offering to hold the 10th ECHA conference in Lahti, Finland.”
With these words Javier Tourón (President of ECHA 2000-2004) announced the decision to allocate the conference to Lahti in the hope “that this first conference of ECHA in the Scandinavian region will foster a multitude of initiatives in favour of the gifted and their education”.
“Finland is a northern country of great beauty. About 2/3 of its area is covered by forest and nearly 200 000 lakes. The coastal archipelago with its labyrinth of waterways is extremely beautiful. It is an advanced society with a high level of education. (…) Lahti is located about 100 km Northeast of Helsinki and is the gateway to the Finnish Lake District, well-known for its natural beauty where inland waterways dominate the landscape.”
(website of palmenia)
September 13-16 2006 was the date when the 10th conference “Values and Foundations in Gifted Education – Reflections on the Ethics of Multiple Intelligences” was held. The Organizing Committee was in the capable hands of President of ECHA Franz Mönks, Secretary of ECHA Johanna Raffan, Prof. Javier Touron, University of Navarra (Spain), Harald Wagner, Bildung und Begabung E.V. (Germany), Prof. Kirsi Tirri, University of Helsinki (Conference Chairman, Finland) and Prof. Jarkko Hautamäki, University of Helsinki (Finland). The conference took place in the Congress Centre Fellmanni - Lahti Adult Education Centre, a building designed by Arto Sipinen and completed in 1987. The facades of this building are primarily made up of brushed white concrete slabs, Lapp marble and glass.
The conference was attended by 215 participants from 37 different countries. The largest groups of participants came from Finland, Germany, Spain, UK and the Netherlands, but there were people from some unexpected countries like China, Kuwait, Korea, Macao, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Thailand as well.
“In this 10th Conference of the European Council for High Ability, the values and foundations in gifted education are discussed in the framework of multiple intelligences. We will reflect on all the original intelligences identified by Gardner in our program including linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences. Furthermore, we investigate the new possible intelligence types that are discussed in the professional literature including environmental, emotional and spiritual intelligences. The scientific and ethical foundations of each intelligence type need to be considered before we can educate and nurture them in effective and moral ways. This 10th Conference of the European Council for High Ability should serve as the groundwork for a profound analysis of the values and foundations in gifted education. The participants will become more familiar with the latest advances and possibilities related to multiple intelligences. The ongoing research and practice in this field is going to be reviewed in the different keynote and paper presentations.”
(Kirsi Tirri, Conference Chairman)
Keynote speakers were Risto Saarinen (Finland) on “Virtues, Gifts and Talents: Protestant and Catholic Traditions”, Jane Piirto (USA) on “Understanding creativity in the Domains of Visual Arts and Creative Writing, using the Piirto Pyramid of Talent Development as a Framework” and Ilkka Niiniluoto (Finland) on “Ethical Issues of Research and Education”. Invited speakers were Wilma Vialle (Australia), Joan Freeman (UK), Kari Uusikylä (Finland), Jarkko Hautamäki (Finland), James Reed Campbell (USA), Leila Pehkonen (Finland) and Jean-Luc Patry (Austria).
All together 150 papers were presented during the conference. There were three major themes: on Thursday values and foundations, on Friday creativity, music and art and on Saturday science.
As a first time visitor, this doctoral student stated:
“The facilities in Lahti were good and the staff worked hard to make everything go as smoothly as possible. I think they succeeded very well. I found the atmosphere scientific and relaxed at the same time. That combination made the conference an enjoyable experience to me. (…) All in all, the conference offered a good review of actual gifted education. Lots of ideas, results, and methods such as new questionnaires were presented.“
(Kristiina Holm, ECHA news vol. 20 no. 2 November 2006)
Chairman Kirsi Tirri has some good memories as well:
“I can remember the good quality of the conference presentations. We published three books from the conference papers. The weather was beautiful and people were happy, good memories!”
The website of the conference is still available with lots of material.
9th International ECHA Conference, Pamplona, 10-13 Sep 2004
September 10-13, 2004 the 9th ECHA conference took place in Pamplona, Spain. Pamplona is capital of the Navarra region in the North of Spain, close to the French border. It is world famous for the San Férmin festivities, including traditional bullfighting in July. The title of the conference was “Educational Technology for Gifted Education – from Information Age to Knowledge Era.”
Chairman was Javier Tourón, then President of ECHA, and in the organising committee were Johanna Raffan (UK), Gerardo Aguado (Spain), Linda Barnett (USA), M. Carmen González-Torres (Spain), Annette Heinbokel (Germany), Ole Kyed (Denmark), Kirsi Tirri (Finland) and Harald Wagner (Germany).
“We have arrived at the 9th ECHA conference and this time we have selected a topic that could be considered a modern one, well aligned with the ‘society of knowledge’. This is the first time ECHA has selected this topic as the backbone of its conference. (…) Good education is not available in many places, enlightened teachers are scarce, appropriate teaching materials are often rare, individualised learning plans are not common, so teaching and learning often suffer from inadequate practices and strategies. So how can we offer a gifted education for all students? One response is through the improved use of new technologies. The learning environment we can create should be accessible to all students giving them the best learning experiences to foster their talents.”
(Javier Tourón, foreword program book)
The conference welcomed 225 participants from 35 countries, largest numbers coming from Spain, the UK, Netherlands, Germany, USA and Israel.
Keynote speakers were Patricia Wallace (USA) on “virtual learning environments: promises and realities” , Henry Tirri (Finland) on “Networked – the new science of collaborative giftedness” and Chris Yapp (UK) on “The learning Renaissance”.
“The scientific programme was filled with a variety of attractive topics. Each of the participants surely found a session that presented a valuable source of up-to-date information on his/her field. (…) Patricia Wallace (USA) summarised the present state of knowledge of the virtual learning environment with a practical example of new trends in educational computer games. Chris Yapp (UK) had a very motivating talk about new challenges in the educational process named aptly “The learning renaissance’. We were also impressed by two contributions dealing with the moral education of the gifted. Joan Freeman (UK) and Jean-Luc Patry (Austria) revealed doubts regarding the relationship between morality and intelligence and offered more themes for discussion than simple answers to this thorny issue. (…) We left the conference with new motivation and ideas for our work. (…) The new contacts with people from neighbouring countries, namely Austria and Germany, are very valuable for our future co-operation beyond the boundaries of the Czech Republic.”
(Ondrej Koukol and Jan Mourek, ECHA News vol. 18 no. 2 December 2004)
It was a conference that was inspiring from a parent’s point of view as well, as is stated by Mary Mac Sherry in ECHA News:
“It was my first trip to an ECHA conference and it was a fantastic experience. As the parent of three gifted children, two girls and a boy, I only got involved in the Irish Association for Gifted Children a year ago. Now I was presenting the results of a survey of Irish parents which three of us had done over the summer to a small but interested audience in the University of Navarre. (…) I was honoured to be in the presence of people like Julian Stanley and Joan Freeman and intellectually stimulated from the moment I stepped into the conference halls. The only shame was that there were not more parents at the conference – after all, it is our children that these professionals are studying. (…) I would highly recommend a trip to an ECHA conference to any parent, I learnt so much from so many great speakers and I came back to my own country determined to follow the lead of those who are advocating for gifted children in other countries. Roll on Finland 2006 and I hope to see many more parents there.”
(Mary Mac Sherry, ECHA News vol. 18 no. 2 December 2004)
During the General Meeting at this conference Franz Mönks was re-elected as president of ECHA for another period of four years.
The conference in Pamplona was a success and well-organized by Chair Javier Tourón:
“The ECHA conference in Pamplona was excellent. The speakers were good; the atmosphere was good; the weather was good; the entertainment was good. All the arrangements were done by an excellent conference firm from Israel, Ortra, who had done the Rhodes conference.”
8th International ECHA Conference, Rhodes, 9-13 Oct 2002
The ECHA conference in 2002 wasn’t to be held in Rhodes in the first place: it was assigned to Jerusalem, Israel. Due to the unstable situation in Israel the location was put up for discussion in the General Committee meetings in 2001:
“The members agree that the security situation in Israel is a matter of serious concern. Under the present conditions most of the interested persons would not consider travelling to Israel.”
(Minutes of the ECHA General Assembly, 3 August 2001)
And indeed, a few months later the decision was made to move to Rhodes, Greece:
“Developments have led to the decision to cancel the ECHA conference in Jerusalem 2002. (…) The reply from the Israeli Ministry of Education indicates understanding for and agreement with the ECHA position that the current circumstances in Israel do not provide a reasonably reliable basis for planning a conference in this country. (…) ORTRA proposes to hold the conference on the island of Rhodes, Greece, from 9-13 October 2002. The Executive Committee decides unanimously to accept this proposal.”
(Minutes of the ECHA Executive Committee, 14/15 sept 2001)
And thus the 8th ECHA conference took place in Hilton Rhodes Resort, Rhodes, October 9-13 2002. The title of the conference was “Development of human potential: Investment into our future” and it was organized by Ortra.
“Rhodes island is known as the ‘Isle of the Sun’. With its fresh Mediterranean air and sandy beaches it is the perfect location to hold a conference. The Hilton Rhodes Hotel is ideally located on the beach of Ixia, just four kilometres from the magnificent city of Rhodes, where you can find an exciting combination of medieval castles and palaces with modern shops, cafés and bars. This premier hotel is set in a beautiful, landscaped paradise overlooking the Aegean Sea. With first class conference facilities and deluxe accommodation your experience will be memorable.”
(ECHA News vol. 15 no. 2 October 2001)
According to a Greek myth, Zeus had divided the world among the Gods, but Helios, the God of the Sun - being absent - received nothing. Then the island of Rhodes rose up from the sea and was given to Helios. According to another myth Rhodes was born from Apollo – also God of the Sun – and nymph Rhodos, daughter of Poseidon, God of the Sea.
In this sunny, mythic and historic setting the organization of the conference was led by Chairman Prof. Dr. Franz J. Mönks.
An amount of 222 participants found their way to this beautiful place. They came from 34 different countries, among which were many Eastern European countries: Latvia, Romania, Croatia, Russia, Czech Republic, Slovakian Republic, Yugoslavia, Serbia, Poland, Slovenia and Estonia. But there were also participants from as far as South Korea, Australia, Bermuda, South Africa, New Zealand and Indonesia. There were large groups of participants from Israel, Germany and the Netherlands.
Keynote speakers were Sidney M. Moon, Purdue University (USA) on “Developing Personal Talent”, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schneider, University of Würzburg (Germany) on “Development of Giftedness and Expertise” and Prof. Dr. Ioannis Paraskevopoulos (Greece) on “Education for creativity and giftedness/talent in Greece”.
Apart from the keynote speakers there were eight invited lectures, four symposia, 114 individual papers and 27 poster-presentations.
7th International ECHA Conference, Debrecen, 19-22 Aug 2000
For the second time the ECHA conference was brought to Hungary: this time to the city of Debrecen. Debrecen is the second largest city of Hungary and is located in the east on the Alföld – the Great Hungarian Plain. Hosting was the distinguished University of Kossuth.
“Hungary has always been part of Europe and moreover it has served as the gate and defender of the continent for centuries. During the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy Hungary was a prosperous country and a centre of culture and science. After World War I it was dismembered and after World War II it was isolated from Europe. During this time our cultural, scientific and artistic life not only remained but developed. Now comes the time when the country can return to its one-time position. (…) So we feel honoured to have been offered the chance of organising the next ECHA conference in Debrecen.”
(Emese Vitális, Hungarian Conference Committee, ECHA News vol. 13 no. 1 April 1999)
The title of the conference was “Talent for the next Millennium” and it took place from 19-22 August 2000. The head of the organizing committee was Prof. Dr. László Balogh.
406 experts took part in the conference, for a large part from Hungary: approximately 250 people. The participants came from 26 European countries and five other countries: Australia, China, Indonesia, Jordania and USA. The hosting of the conference and the large Hungarian delegation had a positive impact on the ECHA memberships:
“The Debrecen conference, however, has brought 50 new Hungarian members to ECHA.”
(Minutes of the ECHA General Assembly, 20 August 2000)
Keynote speakers were Dr. Joyce VanTassel-Baska (USA), Prof. Dr. Miraca Gross (Australia) and Prof. Dr. György Hunyady (Hungary).
The program studied the problems of giftedness from a lot of new aspects. Beside the plenary sessions there were more than 26 workshops and thematic paper sessions, symposia and poster sessions. The conference was bilingual: in English there were 103 presentations and in Hungarian 61 presentations.
During this conference Javier Tourón was voted the next President of ECHA and took over from Franz J. Mönks. In his Presidential acceptance speech he set his goals for ECHA:
“The first one will be the development of a set of regulations for the ECHA diploma that will help to foster even further development that will benefit the community of teachers and practitioners as well as the ECHA itself. (…) I will finish using a sailing metaphor. Let’s imagine that the ECHA is a tall ship. You make me the helmsman for this period, but as a passionate sailor of many years I know very well that this ship will be unable to sail upwind without an enthusiastic and well trained crew. You are that crew and I rely totally on you. But we do not set sail from the yard; this is not a new tall ship. This is a veteran vessel that has coped very well in the past with calm waters and stormy ones too, thanks to the seamanship of other helmsmen. I will try to learn from the past and read the charts very carefully to avoid shallow waters.”
(Javier Tourón, Presidential acceptance speech)
It was in the middle of the summer and quite a few participants will remember the heat in those days:
“In the end I too had to quit the sun and go back to my room for a dribbling shower. On average, I reckoned that people took about 5 a day. I was waiting for the water to run out, but it didn’t.”
Despite the heat the participants took the time to explore the beautiful scenery in this part of Hungary. There were several museums in and around Debrecen. Impressive was the Flower Carnival with a parade and traditional Hungarian dancers.
6th International ECHA Conference, Oxford, 18.20 Sep 1998
The 6th European conference for ECHA was held in Oxford. It was chaired by Johanna Raffan, who was a member of the General Committee at that time. The conference was joint with the 16th Annual Conference of the British National Association for Able Children in Education (NACE). It was supported by The Schools Curriculum and Assessment Authority, which was responsible for the content of the curriculum in English schools. The conference took place from 18-21 September 1998 by the title “Potential into Performance”
(PIP or Pip, the main character in ‘Great Expectations’!)
“The conference aims to:
- Explore how the needs of able children are met in the ordinary classroom.
- Share examples of good practice from a wide range of countires.
- Examine research that has influenced the curriculum.
- Find ways of improving the move from Potential to Performance.”
(ECHA News Vol. 11 no. 2 November 1997)
The opening address was held by David Jamieson, Member of Parliament (UK) and Anthea Millett (Teacher Training Agency, UK). Keynote speakers were Prof. Robert Sternberg (USA) on “Succesful intelligence”, Prof. Rena Subotnik (USA) on “Beyond Bloom: Revisiting environmental factors that enhance or impede talent development“, Prof. Robert Plomin (UK) on “Genetic research into the development of abilities” and Jarkko Hautamäki (Finland) on “Epidemiology of excellence- an assessment of the commitment to thinking with Sternberg’s triarchic ability test”.
“The invited speakers concentrated on teacher training and research, whilst the symposia looked at different aspects of education – the various age groups, special provision, lifelong learning and the psychology of high ability. Numerous thematic papers were presented, some in Early Bird sessions at 7-45am! The workshops looked at all aspects of the curriculum from Language to Science, Thinking Skills to Physical education, Art to Religious education. Many of these sessions were practical and great fun. Some of highlights in the workshops were: The delegates in Design Technology, with Ron Lewin, made moving cars and had a competition to see which was the most robust: the watch words were “He saw the same as everyone else but thought something different”.
To Roland Perrson, who lead a session on ‘How to teach (and not to teach) musical performance’. He also entertained us to a very wide repertoire on the grand piano.
Other highlights were the Australians playing cricket on the lawn, a guided walk of Oxford by a 15 year old boy, a four course conference dinner in St Catherine’s Hall complete with long tables, a top table on a dais plus silver and crystal - years before Harry Potter!”
(Johanna Raffan, chair)
The conference took place in St. Catherine’s College: a college formed from the St. Catherine’s Society (established in 1868).
In the historic and academic sphere of Oxford approximately 300 participants from 32 countries tried to find their way, lively described by Deborah Eyre, who was NACE President in those days:
“When I arrived, the conference venue, St. Catherine’s College, turned out to be as busy and noisy as one might expect from a situation where three hundred delegates from thirty-two countries descend upon one place, all aiming to orientate themselves and locate colleagues. For those who were staying at St. Catherine’s there was the challenge of locating rooms and facilities, and for those staying in Oxford the additional challenge of finding one’s way around a city whose centre was largely built in the 16th Century and where road design makes it impossible to travel north to south across the city unless on foot.”
(ECHA News vol. 13 no.1 April 1999)
“The conference itself passed very quickly . It was immensely pleasing to have such high quality keynote speakers and a real privilege to hear them. Speakers from the UK included a range of top governmental decision makers, demonstrating the seriousness with which the current British government views this issue.”
(Deborah Eyre in ECHA News vol. 13 no.1 April 1999)
An important merit of ECHA is thus pointed out: the influence of the biennial conferences on decision makers, policy and government in the countries the conferences are held!
From a parent’s point of view the conference was very inspiring too:
“On the whole I enjoyed those days in Oxford enormously. Although I had come by myself, and had been somewhat apprehensive about joining a conference on a subject about which I felt I knew so little, it turned out to be very stimulating in every respect. In the future I hope, to coin the well-known phrase in yet another way, to be in a position to put my potential in this field into performance, so that I can contribute something to the study of giftedness.”
(Heleen de Groot in ECHA News vol. 13 no.1 April 1999)
“All in all it was a good conference. It was fun working with ECHA. It is good for associations to work together and ECHA President Franz Mönks and I both felt a joint conference had been a good way to introduce British people to Europe and Europeans to Britain. (…). When the conference was over I was very tired, and I suspect the same for many others, especially those who had worked so hard on organisation.”
(Deborah Eyre in ECHA News vol. 13 no.1 April 1999