Dec 18, 2020
Some years ago, the year 2020 began to appear in various strategic planning documents and publications. The reason for the special attention paid to this number of course comes from the notion of ’20/20’ vision, popularly thought to be ‘perfect’ vision. This measurement originated in the first test of visual acuity developed by the Dutch ophthalmologist, Herman Snellen in 1862. Communications and marketing departments in different parts of the world joyfully incorporated this number as a clever catchphrase when setting aspirational planning goals for companies and organisations, all of which were of course to be realized by 2020.
As 2020 draws to a close, events have of course demonstrated that the spirit of the well-known Chinese expression – 謀事在人成事在天 (man proposes, God disposes) – is alive and well in the 21st century. Our ‘vision’ of the year, from both the past and even the present, has been far from perfect. Our plans and aspirations have been delayed or denied. What seemed to be immutable, has suddenly become fragile. Certainty has taken a long holiday. When reflecting on the year, we might even be prompted to ask, “how did we get it so wrong?”
What has perhaps been lost in translation over the years is that contrary to popular belief 20/20 vision is not ‘perfect’ vision. It is literally a measure of our capacity to see something that is 20 feet away as if it were 20 feet away: 20/20. It measures not perfection, but clarity.
Perhaps we can take some comfort in the idea that we did not foresee 2020 perfectly, but at its close we do see some things more clearly now.
We have learned that travel is, as it has always been, a privilege, not a right. We have tested and evolved the tools of communication mediated through technology to gain a keen appreciation of what can be achieved online, and what cannot. We have learned about the importance of personal contact and interaction; of friendship, companionship, partnership. We have re-learned an appreciation of some of the simple things in life: a walk in the park, a family dinner, a night at home together with family and friends. We have learned that when the hubbub of lively children in the classroom falls silent, learning still goes on, inexorably, inevitably, in other places and in other ways. We have learned that above all other things our health and wellbeing are important.
I don’t know what 2021 holds in store. I have hopes and dreams that may come to fruition if I expend effort, but I know that the end result may not be mine to determine. I will not be deterred from trying, however. That is something else we have learned this year: never give up!
As we prepare to celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of another, I wish to offer my heartfelt best wishes to all members of our community for a safe and healthy holiday break and a return with renewed purpose and hope in the new year!
See you in 2021!
Dr. Malcolm Pritchard
Head of School