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Saturday, 16 December 2017 11:21

History of ECHA Conferences

The General Committee of ECHA decided to celebrate the 30th birthday of ECHA by collecting the available information and memories of our past 15 International ECHA Conferences. These conferences were always the highlights of ECHA’s life, which gave again and again a great impetus for research, its applications and cooperation both in gifted education and talent support. The Committee asked Ragnild Zonneveld to mobilize the collective memory of ECHA on its conferences. Please find an Introduction and the history of all 15 past International ECHA Conferences here. We wish a great next 30 years to ECHA in cooperation and enrichment!

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”. 

Vienna 2016 logo

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:

hall of science
Hall of Science, Vienna (Picture from druckerforum.org)
  • 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)

Monks others
Participants, f.L.t.R. Franz Mönks, Friedrich Schraml, Sabine Schraml, Marco Cornelisse

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.

peter csermely
Péter Csermely, 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

save the date vienna 2016
Flyer Save the Date
logo Ljubljana 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.

Four Points Sheraton
Four Points Hotel, Ljubljana

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.

stage Ljubljana
Péter Csermely, Joan Freeman and Margaret Sutherland on stage, Ljubljana

“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.

csikszentmihaly Ljubljana
Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, Ljubljana

“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.”
(Mojca Juriševič)

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.    

A full archived site of ECHA 2014 conference is available at http://echa2014.mib.si/. A video report is available at https://youtu.be/ncsEg_54Dx4.

ECHA Ljubljana front of flyer
Flyer Ljubljana
Program book cover Ljubljana
Program book Ljubljana

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.

logo Munster 2012
Castle of Münster

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).

giftedness across the lifespan
Growing trees:
logo of the conference topic
“Giftedness Across the Lifespan”

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.

Audience at ECHA 12 Opening
Audience at the opening of Münster 2012

“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.”
(Christian Fischer)

“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.”
(ICBF Münster)

award granted Münster
13th International ECHA Conference honoured with the conference award;
f.L.t.R. Fischer-Ontrup, Vormann, Lewe, Fischer, Gardemann - Picture by ICBF

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. (…)

Symposium social media

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!

Jo Freitag twitter
(Jo Freitag, picture from https://giftedresources.wordpress.com/tag/albert-ziegler/)

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

flyer munster 2012 1
Flyer Münster

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“.

logo ECHA Paris 2010
Logo of ECHA Paris 2010

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.

Todd Lubart
Todd Lubart

“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)

uni paris des
Université Paris Descartes

“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).

group Paris conference
f.L.t.R.: Prof. Ernst Hany, Dr. Monita Leavitt, Dr. Roya Klingner, Mrs. Gagné, Prof. Joan Freeman, Taisir Yamin, Prof. Todd Lubart, Prof. Gagné.
Copyright: The Global Center for Gifted and Talented Children

There was a short film made at this conference, which can be viewed through this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCiBHZ69lXc

announcement oezbf news science[4275] Paris 2010
Announcement in News; Science nr. 25 Ausgabe 2, 2010
(Österreichisches Zentrum für Begabtenbeförderung und Begabungsforschung).
program book cover Paris
Program book Paris

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.

Jitka Fortikova
Jitka Fořtíková, Chairman

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).

Period Monday
15th September
Tuesday
16th September
Wednesday
17th September
Thursday
18th September
Friday
19th September
Saturday
20th September
Sunday
21st September
9,30 - 10,30   Preconference workshops
- Joe Renzulli, Sally Reis
Preconference workshops
- jana Jurášková
Keynote speech
Robert Sternberg
Keynote speech
Kimberley Chandler
Keynote speech
Diane Montgomery
Half-day Tour to Karlstejn Castle
10,40 - 11,40   Preconference workshops
- Joe Renzulli, Sally Reis
Preconference workshops
- Johanna Raffan, Diane Montgomery
Invited speakers
Todd Lubart, Daniela Ostatniková
Invited speakers
Christian Fischer, Willy Peters
Invited speakers
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
Walking Tour
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
(underachieving students,
Online Teaching and E-learning)
Walking Tour
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:

Prague 2008 4 echa presidents
Four Presidents of ECHA: Javier Tourón, Joan Freeman, Kirsi Tirri and Franz Mönks

“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/

program Prague 1
Detailed program, page 1.
program Prague 2
Detailed program, page 2.
flyer Prague 1
Flyer
program book cover Prague missing
Program book Prague – can you find the mistake?

“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)

congress centre fellmani
Congress Centre

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.

Kirsi speaking
Kirsi Tirri, Chairman Lahti

“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.

program Lahti 3
Overview of the program.
The full program can be downloaded as a pdf file.

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.

flyer Lahti
Flyer Lahti
program book cover Lahti
Abstract book Lahti

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.”

logo Pamplona
Picture by Prof. Dr. László Balogh

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).

Javier Touron
Javier Tourón, President of
ECHA and Chair of the conference

“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.

welcome sign
Welcome sign at the conference building

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)

Franz Mönks
Prof. Franz Mönks
President of ECHA 1992-2000 and 2004-2008

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.”
(Joan Freeman)

program book cover Pamplona 2004
Program book cover

The fifth Conference of ECHA was held at the beautiful building of Palais Ferstel in Vienna, Austria, from 19 to 22 October 1996.

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Palais Ferstel (photo by Florian Prischl)

The main theme of the conference was ‘Creativity and Culture: Talent Development in the Arts and Sciences.’ Organizers were the Österreichischer Kultur-Service (ÖKS, Austrian Cultural Service) and of course the ECHA.

The conference was held under the auspices of the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education and Cultural Affairs and the Austrian Federal Ministry for Science, Transport, and the Arts.

The 4th conference took place in Nijmegen from 8-11 October 1994, its title was ‘Nurturing Talent: Individual Needs and Social Ability.’

The organizing committee was formed by Franz J. Mönks, Willy Peters, Hélène van Haren and Michael Katzko and the Program Consultancy was in the capable hands of Pieter Span.

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The organizing committee: Michael Katzko, Willy Peters, Hélène van Haren and Franz Mönks