2020 vision and the one eyed man

It is hardly surprising that as we reached the year 2020, we would begin to make comparisons with the idea of 20/20 vision. 

Having 20/20 vision has become synonymous with having perfect vision in many quarters, but that is a misconception.  When an optometrist or optician calls your vision 20/20, they are referring to your visual acuity: the clarity or sharpness of your vision.  They are testing how well you can see an object at 20 feet.  If you can see letters clearly, you have “normal vision.” 

Having 20/20 vision may be essential for pilots; but it isn’t for everyone else.  In the US 20/40 vision would give you a Driver’s licence in all 50 states. Most printed material is 20/40.  In fact, only when you get to 20/200 vision would you be considered legally blind.

So having vision is crucial, but having perfect vision isn’t necessary even for the most challenging of roles that the eyes must perform.  Similarly in life, vision is crucial, but not perfect vision, and this is a real blessing for those of us who run MATs, the government’s relatively new style of governance for schools that celebrates its 10th birthday this year.

It is great to know that perfection isn’t required, as we struggle with concepts more akin to the world of business than the public sector whilst endeavouring to adhere to the Nolan Principles of Public Service.  It is great to know that perfection isn’t required, as we seek to align and standardise practices for the greater good of our students and as we try to find a common Trust ethos and vision without losing a school’s sense of identity and purpose.

We will make mistakes.  We will need to change our minds.  We will adapt and find better ways of doing things.  But we can find solace in the words that my grandad used as his mantra for life: In the valley of the blind, the one eyed man is king.  We may not have perfect vision but what we have can be enough for 2020.

Julian Dutnall
CEO, LIFE Education Trust

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