The stakeholders of talent support of all Europe are kindly invited
Talent is a key factor determining the competitiveness of a country or even a continent. In the past 25 years, awareness of the needs of the most able individuals has increased all over the world, especially in Europe. Talented people of all ages are the life blood of Europe.
To develop a talent-friendly society we need new, effective talent support systems. The first step towards this is to learn how to cooperate, to share information, to make new contacts. In other words: networking is a necessity.
The purpose of the conference is to build a European Talent Support Network.
Hoping to see you in Budapest,
Péter Csermely (HU), Christian Fischer (DE) Joan Freeman (UK), Csilla Fuszek (HU), Éva Gyarmathy (HU), Lianne Hoogeveen (NL), Mojca Juriševič (SLO), Ole Kyed (DK), Zoltán Néda (RO), Szilvia Péter-Szarka (HU), Albert Ziegler (DE)
Message from Professor Péter Csermely
Khalil Gibran (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kahlil_Gibran) said that "Work is love made visible". I would extend this saying by stating that "Network is love made visible." Supporting talented young people is an especially powerful expression of love. Not only because we love the talents themselves and want them to help. In this special situation our love given to talents will be magnified by their key actions, and their love can be spread all over the world. If our love is nurtured by the love of a whole network, and if our love is efficiently spread by a whole network, the love towards talented young people will be much stronger and much more robust. This is what I call a talent-friendly European continent, and this is why I find especially important to build up the network of goodwill, the European Talent Support Network, which will make our love visible.
OVERVIEW BY JOAN FREEMAN MEMBER OF THE SCIENTIFIC COMMITTEE
Two full days in the Budapest Music Center, aimed at developing the European Talent Support System, gave us exciting intellectual experiences along with deep discussions over delicious Hungarian coffee, cakes and cheery camaraderie. The standard of music threading through the proceedings, whether jazz or classical, was at an extraordinarily high level. I’m offering just a taste of the feast we experienced.
THE BENEFITS OF NETWORKING FOR TALENT SUPPORT
Overall, there was one clear and outstanding agreement - the key to networking is interaction. And one great benefit of interaction is opportunities to develop talent. For talented individuals, this has to be at a very high level to be a real springboard for using information in a creative way. It raises the talented beyond the limitations of personal experience and possible isolation.
For sure, electronic networking provides information and great interaction, but at a distance. How much richer the experience, though, when talented youngsters can get together to share excitement in a safe and accepting atmosphere. Brainstorming can inspire youngsters to be more adventurous in their thinking and bring them confidence. Throughout history, talented people have come together to increase their creative endeavour in an atmosphere where they can challenge each other beyond conventional boundaries.
Emotionally, networking offers the talented contact with others who may be going through similar personal issues, like feeling isolated or facing a block in their work or social life. Help can come from another member, or maybe a mentor or counsellor. This is especially valuable for the less privileged and the families of talented youngsters.
It is also true for teachers and organisers of talent support that working with a network gives them a way to share their experiences and develop initiatives to avoid overlap. It is so wasteful of energy to keep on reinventing the wheel.
In a sense, all networking is cross cultural because it is built on flexible bridges between people of different outlooks even within the same country. It’s that flexibility which provides the potential for creativity, enabling different approaches in which all sorts of people can relate and give.
LOOKING AT THE BIG PICTURE
Networks don’t function in a vacuum, but always in the wider context of immense and extremely complex systems - such as education and politics - which we sort of think we understand. It’s the smaller core networks in which people interact more closely, which influence the much larger complex systems.
Any network aimed at talent support should have a built-in creative climate which encourages minds to be opened. The killers of truly free and creative thinking are too often people’s distorting assumptions, their mental models of how the world works, sometimes through their own cultural prism or personal perceptions.
To overcome the limiting effects of individual outlooks, it helps to take meta-view using higher-order systems thinking to rise above immediate concerns such as personal interactions and limited subject areas. It means understanding the relationships between connected parts of systems and how they influence each other. It is helpful to see particular events as part of the greater whole, as interactions taking place over time.
In other words - Don’t sweat the small stuff! Don’t get worked up over tiny things that may have little consequence in the greater whole. Keep a cool head and go for the big picture. Yet at the same time, someone needs to check that the school hall is available on Thursday evening!
In the service of talent support we can aim to exploit the best of lifelong education by searching for recurring patterns and structures within its endless complexity. In this conference, we learned how networks can be understood and described with words, models and diagrams, which gave us a picture of possible ways to make progress within the umbrella systems. Such a stellar view comes into all areas of talent including research and education.
PROMOTING THE TALENT SUPPORT NETWORK
This conference has been made up of 250 invited people from 27 countries, providing an authentic functioning network of people keen to develop talent. Each of the two conference days had a challenging meta-theme which certainly made us think.
On day one we were treated to exciting presentations on the makeup and dynamics of networks. Hubs, nodes, tangents, vectors - not school geometry but real life. Day two intrigued the participants with presentations on the economics of talent support, such as the transfer of talent across borders, the effects of world-wide trade and the global fight for the best people. It brought another new slant to our field.
Psychology can help promotion by encouraging changes in attitudes. For example, making messages fluent and familiar as possible, using repetition, rhyme and easy readability. Advertisers have long been aware that if most people believe something and it seems familiar, others will join in. They are more likely to follow the lead of others like themselves, or better, others they admire. Perhaps we should approach a celebrity or two.
Government legislation is the ultimate psychological action. It is not only professionals who need convincing about the benefits of a network, but as least as importantly - politicians. We have seen that when education systems are legally obliged to provide support for the development of talent, it is far more likely to happen and reach a high state of achievement.
For me the star of effective action was Judit Polgar, chess grand master, who has managed to convince the Hungarian Department of Education to legislate for chess as part of the national curriculum.
Legislation, though, can only really work if there is some consensus. It also implies monitoring and evaluation. We’ve seen its positive effects with ecology, like banning free plastic bags and smoking in public places. And those actions have continued to spread.
TALENT IN EUROPE
This Budapest conference considered many aspects of networking, from cultural effects, the movement of human capital across national borders, global competition for talent, to the mathematics of network dynamics.
On the continent of Europe (with some islands!) we are fortunate in being able to tap into our overlapping cultural bases and are ready to set up a dedicated support network. Among the appropriate Europe-wide bodies, there has been positive action for many years on the importance of talent development – most significantly through intercultural exchanges. Indeed, the European Union has supported this meeting. The time may be ripe to promote the setting up a dedicated office for talent support.
It has been an intensive learning time for everyone. Yet there is a great deal still to consider, such as the influences of genes, religions, beliefs, politics and the growth and distribution of excellence. Next time ...
Truly, I want to thank those who have made this wonderful gathering possible. First of all Péter Cermely. It was his initiative and leadership which managed to get the support of the European Union. Csilla Fuszek’s flair and hard work organised it. Péter Grosschmid was the know-how man who planned the details. Zsuzsanna Szislágyi cleared up the essential fine administrative points. The organising committee too gave their time and unswerving support.
To me, we here are a prime example of what we are aiming to spread – the promotion of a greater understanding and distribution of networking for talent support. We are ourselves a living interacting network making contacts, sharing experiences and ideas, brainstorming and putting into practice what we are about. We are also demonstrating how immensely enjoyable it is.