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.”