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:"
(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

A video report of this conference by The Global Center for Gifted and Talented Children is available at

And a video-announcement by Bildung und Begabung is available at

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:

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
16th September
17th September
18th September
19th September
20th September
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:

program Prague 1
Detailed program, page 1.
program Prague 2
Detailed program, page 2.
flyer Prague 1
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 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)

Hilton Rhodes Resort
Hilton Rhodes Resort
Franz Monks
Prof. Dr. Franz J. Mönks

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.

Wolfgang Schneider
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schneider

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.

program book content Rhodes
Program Book Rhodes
program book cover Rhodes
Program book cover Rhodes

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.

7th ECHA Conference Main Building of Kossuth Lajos University
Picture by Prof. Dr. László Balogh
Joyce VanTassel Baska
Dr. Joyce VanTassel-Baska

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.”
(Joan Freeman)

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.

Debrecen cover program book
Program book cover Debrecen
Debrecen 2000 picture page 1 ECHA news Debrecen 2000 picture page 2 ECHA news
Picture report in ECHA News vol. 14 no. 2 November 2000
Johanna Raffan
Chair of the Conference

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)
Announcement in 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”.

Joan Freeman and Robert Sternberg in Oxford

“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).

The grounds of St. Catherine’s College – picture: St. Catherine’s College

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

Program Book cover Oxford

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

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.

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

Become a member of the ECHA community! Please click HERE  to start your application to become an ECHA member (where your membership fee can be paid by credit card through a secure connection), or go to the Members Area page, where you may see members' benefits.

For membership issues and general information please contact the ECHA Secretariat by clicking HERE .

ECHA News appears twice a year giving in-depth interviews, description of best practices, introduction of ECHA members and highly able young people. For more information click HERE .

ECHA members receive ECHA News free as a pdf file to their email address. Back issues can be accessed in this web-site for ECHA members.

ECHA has a growing Facebook community. To join ECHA's Facebook group, please click HERE .

To access the European Talent Support Network (ETSN) homepage, please click HERE.


Further Information