Unlike other psychologists, Bronfenbrenner studied the child’s environment rather than the child. Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) ecological theory holds that a child’s environment affects the way the child will act. Rather than study the child in a strange environment, the theory studies the child in an environment that the child is comfortable in. When a child in studied in an environment that they are comfortable in, the findings are more accurate. Bronfenbrenner (1979) conducted the “strange situation experiment” before arriving at this conclusion.
In the experiment, children were left with a stranger both in a laboratory setting and later in their homes. The study found that while the children were uncomfortable in both situations because they are left with strangers, they cried three times as much in the laboratory setting than in their own homes. This finding gave Bronfenbrenner (1979) the idea of studying children in familiar settings. Bronfenbrenner (1979) refers to these familiar settings as studying the child in context. Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) ecological theory holds that the various environments in which children are placed or find themselves have a significant effect on them.
Consequently children will act according to the environment which they find themselves in. The importance of the environment to the child is illustrated in the fact that preschool children converse better with their parents than with their teachers or other adults whom they are not familiar with. Some of the environments which children find themselves in include the home, school, daycare, etc. Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory of development holds that there are five levels of environments. These environments are as follows: Microsystem, Mesosystem, Exosystems, Microsystem and Chronosystem.
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The first environment which children come into contact with is the immediate family into which they are born. However, as they grow, they come in contact with other environments. In the course of this, they are able to make changes in the environment by the choices they make. The environment has an effect on the children and also the various environments as well as other factors have an influence on the children (and students too). The first level of environments is the Microsystems. The Microsystems are settings such as the home, the school, daycare, nursery, etc.
This level is the most studied in Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) ecological theory of development because it is the most influential to the child. At this level, the interaction between the child and the environment is referred to as proximal processes. The second level of environments is the Mesosystem. The relationship between Microsystems creates a Mesosystem. For example, collaboration between a child’s (or student’s) teacher and the parents of the child could result in better outcomes. When parents and teachers collaborate to monitor the progress of the student, this speeds up development.
On the other hand, poor relationships between two Microsystems can lead to poor performance of the child (or student) in school. For example, a child (student) who lives in an abusive home might not perform well at school. The third level in the ecological model is the Exosystems. Exosystems are the social organizations in which the child (student) interacts. The social organizations which the child and the student belong to, have an effect on the child. Students who belong to the debating society at school may end up developing effective communication skills.
Macrosystem is the fourth level in Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory of development. This level is important because it has an effect on other levels of influence identified in this theory of development. Macrosystems refer to the laws and customs of the culture in which the child (student) is growing up in. These variables are important because they affect the way children (students) behave and the decisions that they make. Culture determines what is right or wrong in a particular society and people conform. The fifth level is the chronosystem.
All the levels that have been mentioned earlier make up the Chronosystems and the manner in which all these various levels affect each other. Also the Chronosystems refer to the historical context, meaning the era in which the child was brought up in. Current events and new technologies can also have an effect on the development of the student (or the child)- wars, economic depression, affluence, mobile phones, computers, satellite navigation, etc. An evaluative description of how Bronfenbrenner’s levels of influence have shaped my development (decision to enter graduate school).
Microsystem I began to nurture the dream to enter graduate school from the influence in my home. Coming from a home of educated parents, I knew that I had to pursue my career to its peak and beyond- if there is a place to go beyond the peak. Apart from my parents, relatives around me were often conversing about their educational qualification and the next level they were moving to. I really admired them and did not want to be left behind. I remember in primary school that the other children and I will make jokes about the level of education we would attain as we got older.
Furthermore, the teachers at school made us aware at an early stage that we needed to excel in order to progress along the various stages of educational attainment. All these influences got into my subconscious and have led to where I am today. Mesosystem My parents worked closely with my teachers in primary school in order keep a close eye on my educational development. My father asked my teachers at primary and secondary school to identify the areas in which I was deficient. Once these areas were identified, my father arranged private lessons at home.
Thus, whenever I close from school, my private lessons continued after I had a short rest. Furthermore, my father was very careful about the report cards that the teachers sent home at the end of each term. He wanted to know my behavior and acted upon the observation of the teachers. Most importantly, my father monitored my performance in school and told me right from high school the academic discipline that was best suited for me. He said that I will do well as a business administrator, so I ended up studying for a master’s degree in business administration. Exosystems
I attended a Catholic school so we were taught, “early to bed, early to rise, makes man healthy, wealthy and wise. ” The bell rang for Matins and Lauds, very early in the morning. It was a very rigid routine. I was glad to get away from it when there was a vacation but in all this time it has taught me to be organized. The biggest lesson I have learnt is never to procrastinate. What must be done, needs to be done on time and put away. Also, the religious upbringing has taught me contentment even when I lack and never to ask for unnecessary favors from friends or colleagues.
Microsystem Culture among black Africans is very strong. Educated Africans take advantage of every opportunity at education and encourage their children to do same. Among this type of Africans, education is regarded as a value that must be pursued if the individual must excel in life. Uneducated people are looked down upon as the “never do well. ” With this mindset, I definitely did not want to stop at a first degree. I needed to enter graduate school in order to realize the ideals of my group and become a respected member of the group. Chronosystem
Technological discoveries such as the Internet and mobile phones have made my school work easier and served as an encouragement for me to go on. Without these advances in technology, school work will definitely have been very tedious. I am sure in the past the amount of work which students had to do led to an increase in the drop out level. With the Internet, I am able to do research, collaborate with people, look at what other people are doing round the world, etc. The ease which technology affords has contributed in making me the satisfied graduate student I am today.
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