Human development follows unique developmental trajectories to which each child adapts differently to adversities. To understand these trajectories, a multidimensional approach to understanding human development should be undertaken. Human development is two dimensional; inner and outer worlds. The inner world consists of biological, psychological and spiritual experiences which either influence or are influenced by the outer world factors such as interpersonal, social, structural and cultural aspects. (Insert Ref 2 3-4) The study of complex interrelationships between human beings and their social environments is referred to as human ecology. Bronfenbrenner was a noted psychologist who came up with a human ecology model to examine the effects of various socio-economic factors that influence a child’s development. Bronfenbrenner postulated that human development followed a model akin to “nested arrangements of concentric structures each contained within the next (Cited in Thies & Travers 2009 21). These concentric circles represent a contextual level in which a child develops. The levels do not operate in isolation as there are reciprocal interactions whereby the children are products of their environments and vice versa. This model has recently been renamed the bioecological systems theory to emphasize the child’s biological makeup is the primary environment influencing his/her development (Thies & Travers 2009 21). The bioecological model has four main interrelated components: (Lerner 2002 238) •
The developmental process
Human development context
These four components make the bioecological model to constitute a process-person-context-time (PPCT) model that offers a more integrated approach to human development understanding (Lerner 2002 238). This model constituting of genetics-environment interactions leads to “proximal processes through which genetic potentials for effective psychological functioning are actualized” (Bronfenbrenner & Ceci 1994 568). The presumed outcomes of these proximal processes are; differentiated perception and response, behavioural control, managing stress, knowledge and skill acquisition, establishing and maintaining healthy relationships and modification and construction of environments. There are four concentric circles namely; microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem and macrosystem (Bronfenbrenner & Ceci, 1994 569). Looking back at my own life experiences while growing up, I can relate certain personal characteristics to factors mentioned in this model. The child
The innermost concentric circle represents the child and its biological makeup or what Lerner refers to as biopsychosocial characteristics. They are regarded as the most influential shapers of character and three of the key areas in which the person exerts the most influence are; dispositions, ability & knowledge and demand characteristics. Differentiation of these three elements to form unique combinations accounts for the differences in resultant proximal processes and the subsequent development. Thus the person is the most important determinant of personal characteristics and accounts for the differences in personalities (Lerner 2002 239). This inborn characteristics explain why identical twins with the same genetic makeup and brought up in the same house and under the same conditions may exhibit different personalities. For brain development to occur, two dimensional learning has to occur; adaptation to learn by brain capacity and innate information (Johnson, Munakata & Gilmore 2002 8). An example of how a person’s characteristics may shape their life is my disposition. I have always had a nice disposition that made me want to always help people in need. These values were not taught to me by anyone but I just felt that I wanted to alleviate people’s pain. In school, I hated seeing people bullied and I would always stand up for them and try to befriend them. This is also why I decided to be a...
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