Educating Gifted and Talented Children – Turning Research Into Practice

Invited speaker Hans Henrik Knoop

Hans Henrik Knoop hi-res

Hans Henrik Knoop

Positive Psychology in Education:
How fairness, well-being and performance are mutually depending aspects of future education

Hans Henrik Knoop, Associate Professor
Department of Education (DPU), Aarhus University

For more than two centuries, the world has built educational systems on principles of mass production and industry. In many  ways it has been a very successful endeavor,  as still more people have learned to read, write, count and have been introduced to scientific, artistic and moral understandings of the world, far beyond what their home surroundings would allow for. Yet, it has also become increasingly clear that education comes with a price, not only as concerns the financial budget but also immaterially, personally, socially. For as education has grown more and more powerful in selecting young people for different paths in life the risks of young people losing self-efficacy, direction and ultimately hope has increased too.

To be sure, competition between people can be great fun, educational, and very productive as we see in sports, gaming and all kinds of voluntary activity in which people immerse themselves in tough challenges (thereby “competing with the challenge”). But there are delicate limits to be respected if to avoid fun turning into to anxiety, and learning turning into desperation. One such limit is the mere level of challenge. As the level increases the fun and excitements goes up too, until a certain point where fun morphs to fear, where learning changes to self-defense, and where phobia and similar auto-immune reactions begin to flourish, rather than the person hosting them.

Intuitively, talented pupils may seem less affected by these problems than others, but indeed, in certain ways they are actually more vulnerable.

With special focus on the gifted, in this keynote Hans Henrik Knoop offers a positive psychology based model and a strategy for bringing new life to education for the benefit of everyone involved rather than the few, and indeed without thereby hurting anyone.


Hans Henrik Knoop is Associate Professor of educational psychology, Director of the Positive Psychology Research Unit at the Danish School of Education, University of Aarhus, Denmark, and Extraordinary Professor, North West University, South Africa. His work is focused on learning and creativity in education and professional work, having involved more than 15.000 pupils and 2.500 teachers.

For more than a decade Hans Henrik Knoop has been involved in research cooperation with colleagues at Harvard University, Stanford University and at Claremont Graduate University in the GoodWork® Project and as researcher he has participated in development projects for LEGO (1998-2004), Danfoss Universe (2005-2010), SIS Academy (2004-2008) and Royal Greenland Academy (2006), among others. In 2006-2007 contributed to the Danish DR2’s programs on talent development in schools, and he was the scholarly anchor of the Danish TV2’s reality documentary series “Plan B” (2006-2007) and “SKOLEN – verdensklasse på 100 dage” [The School – WorldClass in 100 Days] (2008) concerning efficient education. “Plan B” received international attention in being nominated for the prestigious television award Golden Rose of Montreux in 2007. From 2007-2010 he was Research Director at the Universe Research Lab in Denmark.

As academic expert he has contributed to Danish governmental committees on cross-curricular competencies and wellbeing (2000-2001, 2009, 2014), pedagogical appliance of IT (2002-2003), pedagogical planning (2004-2005), talent development (2005), the Government’s Committee on School Initiation (2005-2006) and the Danish Evaluation Institute’s project concerning teaching environment in primary and secondary school (2006). Hans Henrik Knoop is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA) (2009-2015) and current President of the European Network for Positive Psychology (2010-2014). In collaboration with colleagues at Aarhus University he was responsible for hosting the 5th European Conference on Positive Psychology in Copenhagen in 2010.

He has carried out research based consultancy for a large number of institutions and municipalities in Denmark (1994-) and internationally he has been involved in major EU-financed development projects in Latvia (1993-1999) and Lithuania (1995-1998) as well as contributing to evaluation of development projects for EU (1997-1998).

Hans Henrik Knoop is a requested speaker, who has presented his work through more than 900 invited keynotes and lectures in Denmark and at conferences in many countries including Australia, Austria, Croatia, China, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, South Africa, Slovenia, Spain, The Philippines, the U.K. and the U.S.

He has authored and co-authored more than 160 publications including 8 books.