It's a bit of a double entendre really. Can I coin the phrase "triple entendre" because there's really three things that come to mind? First a definition: Something that emerges comes into view, arises, becomes. That's very descriptive of our homeschooling. Our strengths are discovered and allowed to rise as such. Our style changes, fluxes, emerges. Our methods come about from trial and discovery. Learning happens in different forms with each passing month. And, as a result, I notice that my kids have a more well-rounded point-of-reference than they had before.
Secondly, the word "emergent" has been used in the field of education for quite some time. For instance, emergent literacy is the development of reading skills over time in the life of a young child. (Read to your kids!) Emergent in this field does not refer to a new way of doing things. It's a recognition that within each child lies great potential and purpose that's just waiting to burst forth. Similarly, Reggio Emilia schools have a very appealing emergent philosophy that builds upon the interests of the child and I think that our schooling mimics many facets of this philosophy... painting broad goals but giving freedom for students to determine how to reach them, observing students closely to guide the implementation of those goals, and involving community in their overall development and performance. Therefore, emergent is an educational term indicating that who my children are and who they are becoming will come from them not from me. I get to help shape but not dictate.
Lastly, our family has crept away from some faith practices of modernity and has delved into the world of "messy spirituality." Though still quite Christian, we have re-evaluated many of the practices of our spiritual heritage, kept what seems most like Jesus and have dispensed with a little that just didn't make sense. As the conversation increases about the difference between the two, I'd probably fall more in line with the word "missional" rather than "emergent" but missional simply didn't say all that I wanted it to say here.
I just thought maybe it was time to elaborate a little on this. It's not completely refined, but this is the gist of the blog.