Bronfenbrenner’s book, “The Ecology of Human Development: Experiments by Nature and Design” (Bronfenbrenner, 1997) discusses in depth the ecological systems levels as the micro-meso-exo-macro- and the fifth system, the chrono-system layer. Bronfenbrenner summarized his theory utilizing concentric spheres in where the child begins his or her development in the center of the spheres. Comparing each sphere “…as a set of nested structures, each inside the next, like a set of Russian dolls” (Bronfenbrenner,1979. p. 3). Researchers found that a key factor in parent’s effectiveness was engaging in the child’s activities and environment.
Darling (2007), asserts that “parental monitoring” of their children’s activities decreased the levels of behavioral problems and lead to “higher levels of adult approved activities” (Darling, 2007). Therefore, competence among children will “…depend on the quality of their environment” (Bronfenbrenner, 1999). Children from negative, deprived, disorganized backgrounds display more frequent and severe dysfunctional behavior in order to gain parental attention. On the other hand, parents providing attentive, stable and positive environments provide gratifying and positive reinforcement in aid of the children’s growth. Bronfenbrenner, 1999). Bronfenbrenner posited that “…the greatest effect on positive outcomes in environments with the greatest resources and for an individual who had the greatest ability to take advantage of those resources” (Darling, 2007). Microsystem Bronfenbrenner described his models as the micro-system layer originating in the center of the sphere, involving the child’s interactions and activities within the context of family, school, daycare, and school, peer groups and how these interactions shape his or her development in a particular setting.
A setting is where the child engages in “…particular activities in particular roles for particular times” (Bronfenbrenner,1979). For example, Bronfenbrenner observed parents emphasizing the importance of socially acceptable behaviors, exposed their child to positive activities, became involved in their child’s school, friends, thus producing children that were secure in new learning experiences. Mesosystem The mesosystem layer relates to the people in a child’s microsystem. It consists of the interactions between two or more settings which involve the developing child.
For example, child’s parents and teachers may be interacting in discussions about the child’s progress. Bronfenbrenner found when parents take an active interest in the child’s early academic progress, that child has a greater chance of success upon entering high school (Oswalt, 2008). Exosystem The exosystem is comprised of the involvement and progression that takes place between the dyad setting, but it “…does not contain the developing child” (Bronfenbrenner, 1994). They are occurrences “that indirectly influence processes within the immediate setting in which the developing child lives” (Bronfenbrenner, 1994).
For example, the child’s parents’ moving to a different state will directly affect the child’s interconnections with neighborhood friends and teachers. As an example, the child ‘knows’ he has lost his best friend, and may never find another. Thus, the child may meet this change with fear or dissatisfaction (Bronfenbrenner, 1994). The exosystem level includes the positive and negative structures found in the national government, cultural values, the economy, other macro influences. For example, Anglo-Saxon societies stress individual accomplishments, whereas Asian societies stress consensus and conformity.
Cronosystem The chronosystem is the outermost shell that Bronfenbrenner displays. This is a temporal continuum that encompasses a person’s life experiences throughout their lives. A major example of the operation of this continuum is the impact of a parental death and the resulting behavioral change in the developing individual. The micro, meso, exo, and macro levels all impacted my individual development and career goals in obtaining a master’s degree in Human Services with a specialization in Social and Community Services.
In the micro level, my earliest experiences were affected by the negative parental influences. As a child, I can remember my brothers and I were mainly spoken to when we did something wrong. In turn, these negative experiences affected my academic performance in school as well as my behavior. In the mesosystem, the only times my parents became involved in school were when they were called by the school principal to discuss my inappropriate behavior and my inattentiveness in learning.
In the first grade, I was held back from entering the second grade because I could not speak English well or even Spanish. Again, this was a result of not having positive learning experience during childhood. It was not until the sixth grade that my principal decided I might succeed if I skipped the seventh grade to the eighth grade. That’s when my negative experiences turn to be positive and enlightening. I flourished that year and received a small scholarship to attend a school for girls. There I also flourished and began to have teachers and friends that were positive role-models.
An example in the exosystem, I had a young brother with Down’s syndrome who at the age of 3 left our home to live in a state mental hospital. I was 13 years when my mother received a phone call from the hospital stating my brother had died from choking on some food. From that day on, my mother became distant and suffered from alcoholism. This experience saddened me greatly, but I was fortunate to have the support of my older sister, and wonderful teachers and friends that kept me succeeding in school. This success continued through college.
However, when I was 16 years old, my mother was diagnosed with depression. Though I appeared happy with my school experience on the outside, inside, I felt depressed and longed for my mother’s love. All during this time, my father was physically present, but emotional absent due to the traumatic experiences at home. In the macro system, I grew up in a Hipic culture, though my parents emigrated from Mexico to the US, my mother’s alien status became problematic as she could not speak English and inevitably could not take the test to become an American citizen.
As a result, my mother felt she was a failure to herself and to my father who became a citizen at age 18. At the age of 47 years, I was able to complete my education at a women’s college. It was finally there I was fortunate to pursue my love of art. Upon graduation, I also found a new love of being of service to other’s less fortunate. I found that I obtained jobs not completely fulfilling, and when thinking upon this, I realized I could improve the possibility of reaching that fulfillment through graduate school to obtain an advanced degree in order to better serve the people I will work with.
In conclusion, I don’t regret my experiences during my childhood. I learned a great deal about how one can attribute their success to resiliency. No matter how dismal matters were, there was always someone or something over the rainbow. I had a wonderful caring and nurturing older sister who loved me unconditionally. I had teachers who believed I was a worthwhile, intelligent and loving human being. With this nurturing, I was finally able to climb over the wall; only to look back at my stumbling blocks as experiences one takes to traverse their journey.