Urie Bronfenbrenner is most famous for his views on ecological psychology. Some argue that he is one of the most well known psychologists of his time. In his eighties when he died, he had an extremely long and productive career. Having read a lot of history on this psychologist I would have to agree that interactions with others and the environment are key to development. These theories acknowledge the interaction of biology and environment. They also emphasize the important impact that cultures can have on the development of the individual.
We all experience more than one type of environment, including §The microsystem – such as a family, classroom, etc is the immediate environment in which a person is operating. §The mesosystem – which is two microsystems interacting, such as the connection between a child’s home and school. §The exosystem – which is an environment in which an individual is not involved, which is external to his or her experience, but nonetheless affects him or her anyway. For example, if the parent has a bad day at work, or is laid off, or promoted, or has to work overtime, all of these events impact the child.
And finally, §The macrosystem – or the larger cultural context (Bronfenbrenner, U. 1979). The ecology of human development. Cambridge, MA). Throughout my life and in my home my parents, grandparents and great grandparents were all educated and there was no question whether or not education would be the next step. With this background as Bronfenbrenner says, two microsystems are interacting, such as the connection between a child’s home and school (Bronfenbrenner, U. 1979).
It was inevitable that I went to college and graduate, it was even more important to further my education as much as I saw fit. The sky is the limit and we were taught that only we as individuals could hold ourselves back. There was no pointing the blame at others and we knew that if we failed that we had to take ownership and accountability for what went wrong. Graduate school for me was a personal choice for me because I knew there were other things that I wanted to accomplish and learn. In today’s economy and with our future not as promised, I knew that education was the key to my success.
Bronfenbrenner emphasized that what was important about development was the social context that children grew up in. People in different cultures develop dramatically different outlooks on life. They learn different skills. Also, children are extremely dependent upon their parents or teachers to care for and teach them, this is very universal in my opinion. No matter where you are from all children rely on their elders to teach them and even duplicate what they see their elders doing because they have no sense as a child of right from wrong.
With that being said, a child can sense when something is wrong even if they don’t understand what’s going on, for instance, the mesosystem (Crandell, Crandell, & Vander Zanden, J. W. 2009) when a child whose parents are fighting all the time and considering divorce starts to become more withdrawn at school. Children may not understand why their parents are fighting or getting a divorce, so that can lead to them thinking they did something to cause their parents fighting and in turn blame themselves. This reflects in the child’s personality and grades.
Another of Bronfenbrenner environmental systems is exosystem (Crandell, Crandell, & Vander Zanden, J. W. 2009); an example of an exosystem is the child’s parent’s workplace. Although a child may never have any role in the parent’s workplace, or, in fact, never even go there, the events which occur at the child’s parent’s place of employment do affect the child. A child’s father having problems at work is more irritable with family members. The last system is the macrosystem which refers to the values, laws, and customs of a particular culture.
This too has influenced my decision to go to graduate school because I had a sense of not wanting to be “left behind” in the world. Although I certainly don’t have any idea of how other peoples parents raise them in other parts of the world, I think our common goals are somewhat going in the same direction such as wanting to better ourselves. We have to stay ahead of the trend and some of us have the desire to set the newest trends. We would like for that trend to make a difference in the lives of everyone in the world.
No matter where you are from, the culture and historical influences that people grow up in change who they are as individuals. These theories acknowledge the interaction of biology and environment. They also emphasize the important impact that cultures can have on the development of the individual. Bronfenbrenner (1979) emphasizes that change at the level of the macrosystem is particularly important. Because it affects all other environmental levels, revising established values and programs in ways more favorable to candidate development has the most far-reaching impact on candidates’ well being.
This is the most interesting theories in psychology for me and one that includes a large percentage of truly important concepts such as the relationship with your parents, teachers, cultural expectations for different societies, the national economy, your socioeconomic status and much more. Bronfenbrenner theories have effected my educational decisions more than I could have imagined. References: Crandell, Crandell, & Vander Zanden, J. W. (2009) Human Development (9th ed. ) Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press