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Bronfenbrenners Ecological Theory of Development

Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory explains four types of environmental systems which are in layers or rather nested that influence a child’s development. This theory has however been redefined and renamed bioecological systems theory to explain that the primary influence on a child’s development is their biology (Vander, Crandell & Crandell, 2007). This is to imply that the factors that interact in the child’s biology as they mature, their immediate community and family environment, the societal structure all fuel the child’s development (Addison, 1992).

Changes in any of the environmental layers affect the other layers as influences are bi-directional between and within the layers/systems. The bi-directional influence which refer to influence both towards and from the child form the basis of this theory (Berk, 2000). The four types of systems described which influence a child’s development according to this theory are; microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem and macro system. Later another system referred to as chronosystem was added. This the Microsystem refers to the child’s immediate environments such as family, friends, school, the neighbourhood or child care centres (Bronfenbrenner, 2000).

This environment contains structures that are closest to the child and which they have direct contact. At this level of development, the interactions and relationships that the child has impacts away and towards the child (Berk, 2000). This environment affects the child’s development in several ways. The parents for example influence and affect the child’s, behaviour, beliefs and values. Not only is the child’s beliefs affected, they also affects the parent’s beliefs and behaviour towards them hence bi-directional influence as referred to by Bronfenbrenner.

According to this theory, bi-directional influences which have the greatest impact on the child’s development are strongest at the microsystem level (Addison, 1992). The mesosystem is a system that provides connections between the child’s microsystem (immediate environment). An example is the connection between the child’s parents and his church or teacher. Exosystem refers to environmental structures that are external and affect the child’s development indirectly (Bronfenbrenner, 2000). The child does not directly function in exosystem settings but they impact the child’s development by interacting and affecting their microsystem.

An example of these structures is the parents’ workplace regulations. The child has no direct involvement with the system at these level but they directly affect the child’s development either positively or negatively as they interact with the child’s own system (Vander, Crandell & Crandell, 2007). Macrosystem is the system forms that the outermost layer in the environment of the child. This system consists of cultural values, laws, customs, political culture, and national economy amongst other things that are contained in cultural context (Santrock, 2007).

The effects of the principles contained in this system have a great influence at all stages in the interactions of all the other systems. For examples, parents teach the child values that are in accordance with the cultural values and customs. The fact that parents take responsibility of raising their child is in accordance with the law and cultural beliefs. The macrosystem thus affects the child’s microsystem and the other systems as well. Chronosystem brings in the aspect of time as related to the child’s environments. It refers to the patterning transitions and events in the child’s environment over the course of their life.

The events in this system could be external such as in the event that parents die or divorce and the impact of these events on the individual with time (Santrock, 2007). The events could also be internal such as the occurrence of biological physiological changes as the child grows which affect the way they react to changes in the environment and how these changes influence them (Santrock, 2007). Current child development theories however argue that it is not just the environment that influences a child’s theory but their biology as well.

The modern theories emphasize on the role played by both the child’s biology and their environment in growth and change. The theories focus how the two interact in the development of the child. Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory therefore emphasizes that environmental factors and system play the major role in human development. It enables us to understand how the society and that world as a whole can help shape or hinder the development of a child. This theory which varies from culture to culture helps us understand why individual behave the way they do (Bronfenbrenner, 1990).

This theory calls us to have culture intelligence so that we can understand and appreciate why individuals with cultural backgrounds that are different from ours behave in ways that are not similar to ours. The bi-directional aspect of the theory explains why adults care about children and act the way they do when relating with them (Bronfenbrenner, 1990). This theory explains how relations developed at home, in school and in the neighbourhood result to positive or negative development of a child.

I am active duty military in the army and want to help counselling my community and fellow soldiers. My decision to enter graduate school and obtain a masters degree was greatly influenced by all the levels explained and described by Bronfenbrenner in his ecological theory of child development. The microsystem level played the greatest role in my choice. My parents and the affected the way I behaved and the values I developed. They taught good moral values and explained the consequences of doing wrong.

My parents took responsibility of bringing me up hence gave me an education. Going to school when I was a child provided the foundation for my current position. If they had not taken me to school when I was a child, then I would never have had the chance of getting to graduate school and doing a masters degree. Interaction with my uncle who was a law enforcement officer made me develop a passion for the profession. I wanted to grow up and help individuals in the society who needed security. This hence contributed to my decision to join military.

Interacting with my teachers in school helped me get more guidance on career choice hence I was able to choose going to the military rather than joining the police force because of influence from the advice I received from my teachers. Interacting with members of my neighbourhood and the society as a whole made me realize the problems they faced, especially the youth which needed to be addressed. This influenced me to join the army as I wanted to be in a position to help them. My decision to offer counselling to the community and to my fellow soldiers is also as a result of my interaction with them.

The macrosystem level has also enabled me to realize how I can bring a change to the community and to my workplace. It has made me understand the cultural values and laws that allow the community and individuals to grow. I wanted to help individuals comply with these values hence my decision to enter graduate school which will enable me to follow my career in military. The mesosystem enabled me to have good relations with my parents and teachers as I did not have experiences that deterred me from being obedient; hence I have been able to be successful in my studies up to this level.

When I was a child, we had a house burglary in which my father was wounded by the thieves. This frustrated me as none of us had any skills that would enable us to fight back as we were left helpless. My decision to join graduate school and later the army is partly because of this experience as I did not want to ever be in the same helpless situation again. This can be described as a mesosystem level which played a great role in making me stay focused in school such that I was able to qualify for graduate school and thereafter pursue a career in military.

It can therefore be concluded that all the levels of the ecological theory as described by Bronfenbrenner played a great role in influencing me to decide on entering graduate school, doing a masters degree and pursuing a career in the military where I can be able to help the community and my fellow soldiers. These levels also influenced me to develop the values and character that I have which enabled me to be qualify for graduate school. Word Count: 1300. References Addison, J. T. (1992). Urie Bronfenbrenner. Human Ecology, (20)2:16-20. Berk, L. E. (2000).

Child Development (5th ed. ). Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Bronfenbrenner, U. (2000). The Ecology of Human Development: Experiments by Nature and Design. 9th ed. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1990). Discovering what families do. In Rebuilding the Nest: A New Commitment to the American Family. Milwaukee, WI: Family Service America. Santrock, J. W. (2007). A Topical Approach to Life-Span Development. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. Vander, Z. , Crandell, T. & Crandell, C. (2007). Human Development. 8th ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

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