Research Paper: Ecological System's Theory

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Ecological Systems Theory

HOW CHILDREN DEVELOP

Urie Bronfenbrenner was a Russian who migrated to America with his parents when he was only 6 years old (Yorganop, 2013). He studied music and psychology and achieved prominence for his work in child development. His most important contribution to the field was the Ecological Systems Theory, which many consider revolutionary. He helped found the Head Start Program, which is among the longest-running and most successful programs devoted to improving educational outcomes especially for poor children. Sesame Street was one of the strategies of this Program (Yorganop).

Comparison with Jean Piaget

Jean Piaget was a Swiss developmental psychologist who won prominence for his social theories on child development (Yingst, 2011; Warren, 2010). His theory had distinct differences from that of Bronfenbrenner on how children develop. Piaget proposed that children develop in conjunction with their physiological development. He postulated a Stage Theory or a four-stage of development. These stages are the sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational. He saw a child learning cognitive tasks, which progress and increase his relationship with the outside world. He also recognized the child's interaction with the environment but not as extensively as Bronfenbrenner saw it. On the other hand, Bronfenbrenner developed his systems theory in which a child or human being develops from his social interactions. He is highly influenced by his society and culture. Bronfenbrenner saw the child as progressing and developing through different social ecosystems (Yingst, Warren)

Piaget's Stage Theory of cognitive development explains how a child thinks about and understands the world (Yingst, 2011; Warren, 2010). At the same time, Piaget emphasizes the importance of age-appropriate learning. On the other hand, Brofenbrenner's Ecological Systems Theory explains how social forces affect human or child development. This theory asserts influence on the social policy on the person, especially in the area of education (Yingst, Warren).

Bronfenbrenner's Systems Theory

This suggests that human development proceeds through five environmental systems with which he interacts (Yorganop, 2013; Derksen, 2010). These are a microsystem, a mesosystem, an exosystem, a macrosystem, and a chronosystem. A microsystem consists of the institutions and groups, which have the most immediate and direct impact on the child. These include his family, school, religious institutions, neighborhood, peers and his own biology. The inclusion of his biology led others to refer to this Theory as the Bio-Ecological Systems Theory. A mesosystem consists of relations between microsystems or links between contexts. Family experiences connect with school experiences then to church experiences and peer experiences. This can explain why children who are rejected by parents may not find it easy forming positive relations with teachers. An exosystem consists of links between a social setting in which the person does not actively participate and his immediate context. His home experience may be influenced by his mother or father's experience at work. Or his mother's promotion entails increased travel, which conflicts with that of the husband or the child and changes their pattern of interaction. A macrosystem embodies the culture of the person, which includes the socioeconomic status, poverty level and ethnicity. This evolves through time, during which every generation changes its own macrosystem and develops into a unique macrosystem. And a chronosystem is formed by the pattern of environmental events and transitions throughout the course of one's life, which includes socio-historical situations. One example of a transition is divorce. Divorce has been found to impart adverse effects on children in the first year. In two years, family interaction becomes less turbulent and more stable. On the other hand, an increase in career opportunities for women is an example of a socio-historical situation in the last decades (Yorganop, Derksen).

Each system consists of roles, norms and rules, which shape the psychological development of children or human beings (Derksen, 2010; Warren, 2010). The environmental hardships encountered by an inner family will be different from those of a sheltered, affluent family living in guarded villages or communities. Poor families confront the realities of poverty and crime while affluent families are plagued by a lack of supportive relationships. This Theory has since its publication in 1979 widely influenced the way that psychologists dealt with their study of persons and their environments. They began to see these environments as part of the life pattern from childhood to adulthood. Bronfenbrenner credited Soviet developmental psychologist Lev Vygotsky and German-born psychologist Kurt Lewin for their influences on this theory. It contributed major… [END OF PREVIEW]

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