Bronfenbrenner ecological system theory is one of the most frequently cited development models of our times. Its wide spread acceptance is in part due to varied solutions that it offers to complicated social and community problems (Damon & Lerner, 2006). The theory revolves around the development of child and the impact of seemingly intertwined social issues on individual personality traits. It hypotheses that children are impacted by their immediate environment such as family, school or friends while factors including health, religious teachings and economy are all interrelated to effect the overall lifestyle.
Although the impact of immediate environment is the strongest but it can be mitigated by another more powerful event in life (Cocking and Renninger, 1993). The five systems, as described by Bronfenbrenner are Microsystems, Mesosystem, Exosystem, Macrosystem and Chronosystem. The impact of most important setting is explained by Microsystem which includes the family, peer, school and neighbourhood. Although there is no set pattern or limit to the level of influence that any one system may exhibit, Microsystem is considered most influential.
Bronfenbrenner levels of influence on personal development My family has had great influence in shaping my development and aspirations. Since my childhood, my parents took it upon themselves to train and emphasize the importance of cultural values. I was brought up in an environment where tradition and religion dictated every aspect of personal life. It seemed that the Church played a pivotal role in further strengthening the beliefs and faith associated with a traditional Christian America.
As a child, my early memories evoke a picture of strict adherence to Christian faith as I accompanied my mother and other female relatives on occasional Church activities. Furthermore, a close knit family fostered the development of strong family ties that encouraged participation in family events and exchange of gifts. Such was the emphasis on attending important family events that my family still somehow manages to attend various ceremonies in spite of the hardship to travel long distances.
It will not be an oversimplification to suggest that these strong relationships fostered a sense of unity where every member of family garners support from other well established members of this group. I have seen several of my Cousins and Uncles getting financial support as well as help with finding jobs, guidance and medical treatments. Even Bronfenbrenner himself suggest that there is a need for American families to live close enough to rely on each other. He advises that living together will enhance our chances of supporting young parents and elders (Boemmel & Briscoe, 2001).
On the contrary, such affection adversely affected my lifestyle at school where it was almost difficult for me to adjust in Kindergarten and early grades. The primary reason for such an anomaly can be attributed to the fact that my initial upbringing was done with care and affection from Parents, Uncles and Aunts which made it difficult for me to take dictation from someone else, who was initially a stranger to me. The trend continued throughout my school life where I made only a few trusted friends as my personality became accustomed to making friends based on my own perception of trust.
I was brought up in a middle class neighbourhood where residents from several different cultures lived together in harmony. Such peaceful coexistence further strengthened my belief of camaraderie and looking towards family and friends for help. The overall circumstances and a relatively peaceful environment assisted me in developing unbiased attitudes towards people of different faith, cultures, race and gender. I was also fortunate to have the teachers and mentors who helped me envision a better world without the myths and controversies usually associated with people of different lifestyle.
Regular family functions promoted active participation in healthy activities which kept us away from being attracted by events in media. I still have a vague memory of watching cartoons and such popular TV shows as Sesame Street but TV time was strictly scheduled by parents who oversaw the selection of every thing being watched. Where such an attitude fostered the ideas of ethical viewing it also provided a yearning to resist the commands which to me were conflicting with the freedom that I intended.
Strict adherence to rules invoked a personality conflict that later developed into doing things that had more detrimental results. It included getting into brawls, frequent mood swings and apathy from taking orders. These attitudes first developed at the age of seven, which my parents misunderstood as ADHD Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder. I also remembered to be given certain medications for a few months followed by frequent visits to the therapist. Fortunately, one of my extended family members is a medical professional who specialises in the area of child medicine.
He was also accustomed to our family life therefore he was able to convince my parents that such traits are normal in boys transitioning to teenage and should not be taken seriously. Due to lack of solid data on ADHD and a strong debate surrounding the effective treatment, my family stopped any further treatment. I am not a fervent reader nor do I remember studying many books but it seems habitual that I skim through newspapers and magazine articles to keep myself updated with major events unfolding around me.
Such habits have encouraged me to critically analyse events and reports without being overwhelmed by the tone of the writer. Furthermore, I understand that events unfolding around the World and global economic meltdown has made it difficult for many to make a substantial living but it should be understood that the recession is cyclical and United States still provides opportunities which are far superior to any that other people around the World can ever get. Bronfenbrenner theory & graduate school
Most of my family has worked hard to achieve their goals and education has assisted most of them to achieve their objectives. Since my childhood, I have seen most of my family members enjoying a privilege of holding at least a high school diploma. Nowadays, a high school diploma may not mean much to our generation but three to four decades earlier it could land someone a reasonable blue collar job. I was always taught about the virtues of getting quality education. I remember that my grandfather used to appreciate and encourage young people to attend educational seminars and events.
His thoughts were based on the philosophy that education does not merely provide the knowledge to understand the facts but instead it teaches to differentiate between fact and fiction. I think that these ideas are deeply imbedded in my conscience which has helped me to develop a better understanding of the environment around me. While such an opinion has definitely helped me to pursue higher education, it has also set me back in achieving greater results from education. Following the philosophy of my grandfather, I always tried to understand the basics without evaluating everything in detail.
I have been so overwhelmed by the idea of details that it has made it relatively difficult for me to grasp detailed guidelines. I am moulded to appreciate simple and least complex items. Nevertheless, I was never forced to get a higher degree. Enrolling in a Master’s Program is my own decision which has primarily resulted from the teaching of my elders and to a lesser degree for gaining financial prosperity. As discussed, I was fortunate enough to get good teachers who were a role model of a successful social person.
It can be assumed that one of the other reasons to continue a Master’s degree might be an urge to remain close to people who exude an image of higher intellect than the society. Although gaining financial prosperity is my secondary aim but I must confess that my decision to get a Master’s degree is also dictated by fears of an insecure future without the financial freedom that an average person craves for. Due to the fact that my extended family acts as a closely knit unit, several of my Cousins and Uncles have themselves gone to earn continuing education credits.
I think I am also afraid to face the criticism of my family for not striving for a higher degree when most of my cousins are already planning to do so. In this regard, I consider myself lucky to be among a fortunate few to be bestowed with some of the best educational systems in the World. To me, it will be an injustice to myself for not grasping this opportunity and implement its wisdom to utilize my knowledge for the betterment of human kind. I personally think that Bronfenbrenner theory helps define almost every aspect of my life and it advocates looking at interrelated parameters to find a plausible solution to problems.
References Boemmel, J & Briscoe J (2001 May 9). Web Quest Project Theory Fact Sheet of Urie Bronfenbrenner. Retrieved April 23, 2009, from National Louis University Web site: http://pt3. nl. edu/boemmelbriscoewebquest. pdf Cocking, R, & Renninger, A (1993). The development and meaning of psychological distance. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Damon W & Lerner R (2006). Handbook of Child Psychology: Theoretical models of human development. Wiley & Sons Inc. p 991