Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Theory of Development
Graduate School and the influences that shaped the decision HS5002 Survey of Research in Human Development and Behavior Bronfrenbenner’s Ecological Theory Urie Bronfrenbenner (1971-2005) created the ecological theory based on different levels to indicate how a child’s environment affects his/her development as well as minor and major life decisions. Bronfenbrenner categorized his theory into four levels: the microsystem, the mesosystem, the exosystem, and the macrosystem.
Each level of the theory plays a role in the decision making process and situations throughout a child’s development, which ultimately shape that child into a content, happy, bitter or sad adult. The microsystem “is the small, immediate environment the child lives in”. (Oswalt, 2008, para. 1). This may include immediate family and non-familial relationships that interact with the child during childhood. When the different parts of the child’s microsystem start working in conjunction for the betterment of the child, this generates the mesosystem.
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The exosystem level influences the child indirectly, as it is comprised of places or people that don’t have personal dealings with the child however still affect the child’s way of life. The last level, the macrosystem, carries the largest weight on a child’s development in that it possesses “things such as the relative freedoms permitted by the national government, cultural values, the economy, wars, etc” (Oswalt, 2008, para. 4). When coupled together, all levels ultimately will some bearing on a child’s development. The Microsystem and Mesosystem Levels
Because the microsystem and mesosystem deals with the immediate family and outside family influences, it’s safe to say that for most children, this includes the home, family, toys, peers, classrooms, and teachers. The home environment will be persuaded by the makeup of the neighborhood. The family will be subjective by such factors as whether a parent is able to take a job that permits frequent contact with the child and the degree to which the parent feels oppressed or happy at work. The people that I encountered when I was younger pre-exposed me to the idea of furthering my education at all costs.
I was raised in a single parent home due to the separation of my abusive father from my mother. When I was in the fifth grade, my mother initiated a relationship with another man, who stepped in and replaced my absentee father’s position. Because my step-father was still involved in a loveless marriage, he did not spend as much time in the home as a father should therefore leaving my mother to be a single parent throughout my entire childhood and adolescent years. Education has always been instilled in our family, dating back to my great-grandmother.
Unfortunately, not all of my family members advanced their education so the burden was placed on my generation. Since my tender childhood years (between ages 5 and 13), education was very important to me. Bronfenbrenner (1986) has pointed out that the family is of crucial importance in the development of children’s abilities. (p. 723–742). My mother was an integral part of my education when I was in elementary school but by the time I was promoted to sixth grade, her interest in my grades and school performance slowly decreased.
My middle school teachers saw the potential in me to accomplish great things in life so where there was a lack of parental support, I received support from my middle school teachers, administration and peers. The lack of relationship between my biological father and mother caused early disruption in my life however it posed no threat to my education. I believe their previous abusive marriage and unwillingness to get along post-separation hindered my growth in a few areas of my childhood.
By the time I was advanced to high school, my mother’s full support no longer existed. Because of her decision, I turned to other means for emotional and mental support. My high school GPA was not the best due to the constant behavioral problems showcased throughout my entire high school career. I was involved in several physical altercations and numerous minor and major behavioral issues including walking out of class, using profanity towards the teachers, etc. My mother’s authoritarian parenting style emphasized obedience, even at the expense of my autonomy.
Despite several interferences within my early development, I finally began transitioning into college-girl mindset. The decision to apply to undergraduate college commenced from a dream that my twin sister and I came up with. Our preliminary plans were to attend college together, obtain our Bachelor’s in Accounting, and open a firm to work with big corporations as top accountants. While the dream to attend college remained stagnant, the degree choice changed after our first semester in school.
Right at four years on the head, I graduated with my first Bachelor’s of Social Work, and re-enrolled in school to pursue Criminal Justice. During my junior and senior year in college, my passion for learning about and working with juvenile offenders intensified, which eventually led to my second Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice. After receiving two undergraduate degrees, I was under the impression that furthering my education was a colossal waste of time. I entered the work force with the education I obtained from in-classroom learning and my social work field placement.
The Exosystem Level “The exosystem level includes the other people and places that the child herself may not interact with often herself but that still have a large affect on her, such as parents’ workplaces, extended family members, the neighborhood, etc. ” (Oswalt, 2008, para. 3). My mother failed to maintain employment throughout my childhood. The reluctance of my mother to maintain employment kind of rubbed off on me because I have been unsuccessful with preserving employment for longer than one year.
The lax relationship between our immediate family and extended family posed a negative threat on my development as well. Even at 28 years old, I still do not wish to seek a relationship with my extended family members. That refusal stemmed from a long time hurt that I felt on behalf of my mother during his most critical times of need. My immediate family received much support from the neighborhood, which helped my development wonders. Up until third grade, we resided in a neighborhood where every parent knew of each other, and all children were raised by the same guidelines, subject to the same reprimands.
Our neighborhood stuck with one another and taught me the importance of the old saying “it takes a village to raise a kid”. Again, children within my generation were bussed to school together, hung out at school together, and raised around the value of an education. Once my mother uprooted our family from the neighborhood, I noticed that strong “village” support no longer existed and was not replaced. Still I remained in school and utilized the ideas and shortcomings from my childhood to aide in the decision to enroll in graduate school. The Macrosystem Level
The macrosystem can influence a child’s development in a positive or negative way. Because society and culture impact this level, some children may experience conditions such as depression, anxiety, self-esteem issues, etc more often than their peers that are raised in development-friendly homes. The negative culture that I was brought up in still impinges on my choices today. My mother was addicted to cocaine and my biological father was addicted to crack-cocaine and heroin. The constant in and out interaction with their dealers was the reason for my choice in men.
The harmful selection in men, however, did not change my willingness to excel in education, thus deciding to enroll in graduate school. A year ago, my choice of men did cause me to prolong applying for graduate school, in attempt to keep up with their opulent lifestyle and criminal consequences. Conclusion “The most useful aspect of this model is that we as a society can together raise children, if we worked in harmony together, provided our children with a community that supported each other, the outcome on our children will be profound.
If our next generation fails, if our future citizens are weak, if mental disorders and illness are on the rise, then it is because we all failed. ” (Ahuja, n. d. , p. 8) As Ahuja emphasized the collaboration of society to raise all children, I can honestly say my surroundings and environment shaped my decision to enter graduate school to obtain my Master’s degree in Human Services. References Ahuja, Y. (n. d). Bronfenbrenner Ecological Theory. [Electronic version]. Retrieved from http://www. mymontessoriacademy. com/newsletters/websitebronfenbrennerecologicaltheory. pdf Bronfenbrenner, U. 1986. Ecology of the family as a context for