The snowball effect began with, what I now think of as, a leap of faith. Richard and I leapt into that great abyss better known as the unknown. It turns out this was actually not true, it would be more accurate to say we chose to neither believe nor disbelieve, but instead began to examine all we were being told. Perhaps it’s better to say that instead of leaping into we jumped out of. From there it was more of a hop to begin presuming competence. However, as a commenter on this blog said, “presuming competence isn’t enough.” And knowing what we now know, I have to agree. It’s the starting point. It’s like that initial leaping off point, it’s just the beginning.
At the moment we are experiencing something akin to being in free fall. It’s the feeling of discovery, limitlessness, surprise, and pure ecstasy that comes with being present without expectation or preconceived ideas about what should or will happen. Our perspective continues to change as we move along. Like any great adventure, the path is at times rocky, but the triumphs are exquisite. As we move deeper into this process it becomes easier and more familiar to be solidly in the discomfort of the unknown. There is bliss in that. True bliss.
Last fall I wrote a post about how I was worried Emma was not comprehending a story that had been sent home in her back pack from school. It was a simple story, perhaps 1st grade level reading with some questions that she seemed unable to answer. In the post I write how I am trying to find ways to help her reading comprehension. I talk about presuming competence. What I am struck by now is not Emma’s level of supposed incomprehension, but by my own. I reread all the comments just now and am amazed, amazed that though I thought I was presuming competence, I was only able to go so far with my presumptions and, as it turns out, wasn’t going far enough. I could only presume as much as my limited thinking would allow me. The idea that she was not only comprehending this story, but was so far beyond it, was not something I was capable of fully understanding, let alone considering. I was much more stuck, as it turns out, than my daughter was.
Now jump forward to yesterday afternoon, almost nine months after I wrote the post I refer to in the above paragraph. Emma chose to talk about adjectives. We watched the BrainPop movie about adjectives and then she took the quiz. I copied what Rosie had done, asked her to read the questions silently to herself while using a laminated card to direct her visually and then quickly guided her to read each of the four multiple choice answers. She only hesitated once, on a question about a possessive adjective, but otherwise breezed through the quiz with 90% accuracy. Not only was Emma reading faster than I was able to, but she was accurately answering the questions faster than I could read them, let alone answer them.
The snowball effect: “The basic workings of a literal snowball effect can be illustrated by taking one’s average baseball-sized snowball and dropping it down the side of a snowy hill. As it descends it gathers more snow and whatever leaves, sticks, etc. are in its way. The snowball accumulates not only size, but speed.” ~ From the Urban Dictionary