Strengthening talents through a regional development programme
Regional Development BeRG
At every stage in the talent-development process, opportunities need to be provided by the community (broadly defined to include school, neighbourhood, local and regional community, society at large), and opportunities need to be taken advantage of and committed to by the talented individual.
An inspiring environment supports and fosters strengths and talents. A gifted environment offers diverse, colourful learning opportunities as well as informal, non-formal and formal educational settings with supportive advisors and mentors.
BeRG is a regional development programme with the focus on “empowering”. BeRG (German acronym for “Begabung entwickelt Region und Gemeinde”) stands for “giftedness develops region and community”. It provides positive impulses for a gifted environment where children enjoy growing up and realizing their talents.
The concept for the BeRG programme was created by the Austrian Research and Support Centre for the Gifted and Talented (ÖZBF) and was implemented in a rural Austrian region as an EU Leader project in cooperation with the school board and an association for regional development (LEADER Verein Nationalpark Hohe Tauern).
 Subotnik, Rena F., Olszewski-Kubilius, Paula, & Worrell, Frank C. (2011). Rethinking giftedness and gifted education: A proposed direction forward based on psychological science. Psychological science in the public interest, 12(1), 3-54.
The following activities were carried out in the regional development programme BeRG, always with the overall aim of sustainable implementation so that the existing educational landscape would over time transform into a „gifted region“:
- Treasure Map and Website: An interactive map lists all activities, events and courses as well as local experts in specific talent domains.
- Competence Network: An “Education & Counseling” training programme qualifies interested persons. They build up a competence network for talented children and youth.
- Professionalization: Further education for teachers and parents provides ideas on designing gifted learning settings in school, kindergarten and at home.
- Enrichment: The enrichment programmes ‘Forschungs- und Schaffensraum’, ‘BeRG4U’ or ‘TauchEIN’ offer children and young people opportunities to deepen their interests in the fields of science, media, art, literature and music.
- JungeUNI: University lecturers let youngsters experience science first-hand and show them how exciting research, scientific thinking and excellent work can be.
- Business forms school: For one day each month, regional entrepreneurs from the fields of metal construction, bakery, timber construction, installation technology or electrical engineering collaborate with school teachers in their regular subjects and team up for one day of joint teaching.
- Strengths box: This box contains tricky and entertaining tasks that let students discover and learn about their strengths in the areas of body awareness, spatial imagination, nature & environment, language, logic & maths, music and social interaction.
The BeRG programme concept has three focal points: resource orientation, systemic view and regional development.
(1) A resource-oriented attitude and a positive view of the strengths of all children are essential in order for them to develop optimally, enjoy learning as well as build self-esteem and resilience.
(2) Talent development takes place in complex learning systems. Above-average performance is triggered by the interaction of many components: courses, competitions, expertise, teachers, mentors etc. In addition, effort and goal orientation are necessary for effective talent development.
(3) The entire region will become more attractive for young and older people. Creating a support structure for the development of one’s potential is the best possible contributor to a high quality of life.
“At every stage in the talent-development process, opportunities need to be provided by the community (broadly defined to include school, neighbourhood, local and regional community, society at large), and opportunities need to be taken advantage of and committed to by the talented individual.” (Subotnik, Olszewski-Kubilius & Worrell, 2011, p. 7)
Subotnik, Rena F., Olszewski-Kubilius, Paula, & Worrell, Frank C. (2011). Rethinking giftedness and gifted education: A proposed direction forward based on psychological science. Psychological science in the public interest, 12(1), 3-54.
Enrichment: „Magicians at work“
Enrichment: programming with Arduino