Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder (2012) has inspired my thinking about teaching for the past nine years and it informs the theme for the 2021 Summer ATE Conference and for the Annual Meeting in 2022.
Taleb’s work ultimately deals with "decision making under uncertainty.” As teachers, we know that research confirms that we constantly make decisions during our interactions with our students during our time with them. This richly complex process is well known to us all, but was definitely intensified for us during the pandemic, which threw us all into an arena of uncertainty. However, in listening to everyone’s stories, I can confirm that last year’s volatility was met with creativity and confidence. Whereas fragile things are harmed by shocks, and robust things are resilient, the “antifragile” benefits from shocks. I have seen this phenomena for myself as I see the great ways teacher educators met the challenges posed to us. We have not only survived—we have grown in our ability to meet the needs of all of our students.
A related concept in Taleb’s work is what he terms the “Lindy Effect.” Something “Lindy” is likely to survive for a great length of time because it has already survived a long time. Named after a Manhattan restaurant where actors observed this phenomena in Broadway show runs, the effect is interesting to trace in our field of education. ATE just celebrated its 100-year anniversary should therefore be more likely to stay in existence for another 100 years. We should be confident in this and appreciate the wisdom of those in ATE who came before us. They began construction of the rich inheritance that has been passed down to us all. It is our duty to keep it alive, and to enrich it. We rest on the shoulders of giants who made ATE “Lindy.”
One of the many repositories of ATE’s wisdom are the association’s Standards for Teacher Educators. The nine standards are elegant in their clarity, their specificity, and their concision. As we all move into the unknown terrain of a perhaps post-pandemic school year, I encourage you to look to the standards, which will present you with time tested truths and applications built to handle any teaching situation. Our standards are definitely “Lindy!”