Christopher M. Clark
Professor Emeritus, Michigan State University and the University of Delaware, and currently a clinical professor at Arizona State University
Back in 1983, ISATT was a European dream to solve a largely European problem. Rob Halkes and Joost Lowyck imagined a small scholarly organization that would meet the needs of educational researchers who were otherwise left out in the cold by the then-dominant neo-positivist paradigm of research on teaching. Young, mostly European researchers studying teacher thinking, teacher cognitions, and teachers’ implicit theories needed a community to belong to: an outlet or two for honouring and publishing their research studies, a support group in which they would not have to eke out a career on the margins of legitimate research.
The founders’ dream has evolved and developed over the ensuing quarter-century. By any standard, the dream has been fulfilled: ISATT has become the organizer and host of a series of wonderful small conferences in exotic places. It has grown from primarily a European membership to a truly international network. It publishes a respected international journal.
The ISATT membership has been well-served: we have come in from the cold and are now members of a pretty exclusive and successful club of researchers on teaching and teacher education. The senior members of the association have brought their students and junior colleagues into the flow of the organization and many of the second generation have begun to take leadership roles and to shape the direction of the future. So far, so good.
This brings me to the second dream. As a wise old member of the founders’ generation, I want to seed a new dream of a possible future for ISATT –we could call it ISATT 2.0. In this second dream, ISATT sustains the qualities that we prize: the intimacy of small conferences, every two years, in welcoming settings; the spirit of generosity and inclusion of graduate students and junior scholars; our eagerness to support participation by colleagues from less wealthy countries and cultures; our excellent journal.
But ISATT 2.0 would re-frame our mission: moving from service to ourselves as members toward service to others outside ISATT. For this dream to come true, all of us would have to dream the dream as a community. In our dreaming and later in our waking conversations we would have to address these questions:
- Are we ready to re-invigorate our mission, moving from self-service to the service of others?
- If yes, which “others” are we best equipped to serve?
- What do we have to offer that is unique and valuable to the others we hope to serve?
- What media will make the service connection best?
I look forward to walking this dream with you in the coming years and decades as ISATT 2.0 takes shape. Perhaps at the 2027 ISATT Conference—in Antarctica or on the Moon—we will be treated to a report on the second dream and a challenge to become ISATT 3.0.