The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has changed our lifestyle and routines. Let’s focus on school; there are a myriad of reasons for getting back to school! In my years of research, I find this to be the most compelling.
The bioecological theory of development was formulated by Urie Bronfenbrenner, he determined that human development is a transactional process in which an individual’s development is influenced by his or her interactions with various aspects and spheres of their environment (that includes school).
Bronfenbrenner conceptualized four ecological systems that an individual interacted with, each nested within the others. Listed from closest to the person to furthest:
- Microsystem — It encompasses an individual’s human relationships, interpersonal interactions and immediate surroundings. An example of this system would be the relationship between an individual and his or her parents, siblings, or school environment.
- Mesosystem — The second layer from the individual, surrounding the microsystem and encompassing the different interactions between the characters of the microsystem. For example, the relationship between the individual’s family and their school teachers or administrators. For an interaction to be considered part of the mesosystem, it has to be a direct interaction between two aspects of the microsystem that influences the development of the individual.
- Exosystem — The exosystem is the third layer and contains elements of the microsystem which do not affect the individual directly, but may do so indirectly. For example, if a parent were to lose their job or have their hours cut back, this would affect their child in an indirect way such as financial strain or increased parental stress.
- Macrosystem — The fourth and outermost layer of the bioecological model, encompasses cultural and societal beliefs and programming that influence an individual’s development. Examples of this would include gender norms or religious influence.
Later, a fifth stage is considered part of the bioecological model, called the chronosystem. This system focuses on the interaction between the various systems and how they affect one another over time. One instance of this would be parents scolding a child for disobedience, which is an instance of microsystem-macrosystem interaction. While the parents are members of the microsystem, they are reinforcing a cultural belief that children should always listen to their parents. The assumption is that over time, the child would grow up to be obedient.
Process — Person — Context — Time (PPCT)
Process — The developmental processes that happen through the systematic interactions mentioned above. What Bronfenbrenner referred to as proximal processes functioned as the primary mechanism of an individual’s development.
Person — This principle was established to indicate the role of the individual and their personal characteristics in social interactions and their individual development. These characteristics include age, sex, gender, physical or mental health, and others. Some of these characteristics are more visible than others (such as age) and as such, are more easily measured over time.
Context — The (now five) systems of the bioecological model serve as the context for an individual’s development — the micro-, meso-, exo-, macro-, and chronosystems.
Time — The most essential element of the bioecological model. Because this model measures an individual’s development, these interactions occur on a measurable, chronological scale. Time influences the systemic interactions within an individual’s lifespan as well as across generations, such as in the case of “family values,” a set of morals or beliefs that are passed down between generations and shape development. This would be an example of microsystem interaction over time.
Developmentally to shape a child, he needs more than the four walls of his home in front of a computer screen. He needs interaction with teachers, peers and to learn to navigate environments outside of his home. The Quest Project®: Foundation was built on and continues to utilize this theory today.
Time to get back to school!