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Ecology of the Child
From Chapter 1 (Ecology of the Child) I learned that when it comes to raising children, parents/teachers should pay close attention to the process’s systemic aspects, reflective of both the surrounding social environment and the biologically predetermined cognitive predispositions in youngsters. Hence, the connotative semiotics of the term “ecology” in the educational domain, with the former being defined as the “science of interrelationships between organisms and their environments” (Berns, 2016, p. 5). As one can infer from the Chapter, it represents a matter of utter importance for educators to be able to provide a child with plenty of opportunities to socialize with others – the main precondition for the young person to be able to acquire social skills. For the process to be effective, those in charge of exercising control over it must understand the cause-effect essence of how children go about constructing their sense of self-identity within a specific environmental (or ecological) niche.
As a result of having read Chapter 1, I am now aware that these niches are best conceptualized as such that consist of four integral elements, termed as “microsystem”, “mesosystem”, “exosystem”, and “macrosystem”. It is specifically the interplay between the influences of each of these systems on the cognitive development of a child that is going to define his or her “moral character” as an adult, and consequently the concerned person’s chances to succeed in attaining a social prominence. I also learned that, as time goes on, the systems in question never cease undergoing a qualitative transformation (something that pertains to the notion of “chronosystem”), and that the developmental well-being of a child should be assessed in conjunction with the affecting circumstances of socioeconomic and psychological relevance.
Ecology of Socialization
After having read through Chapter 2 (Ecology of Socialization), I learned that socialization is the indispensable instrument of familiarizing a child with the ways of this world – the process that has a strong effect on the formation of his or her existential attitudes. That is, by socializing with others, children can develop a dialectical/eclectic understanding of what causes the surrounding social reality to be what it is, which in turn will increase the measure of their societal competitiveness, “Socialization enables children to learn what they need to know to be integrated into the society in which they live” (Berns, 2016, p. 41). The teachers’ role, in this regard, is to provide children with the circumstantially sound incentives to take full advantage of different socialization-related opportunities while coming up with corrective interventions, if deemed necessary.
As it can be inferred from Chapter 2, there are five methods of socialization – affective (emotional), operant (behaviorist), observational (imitative), cognitive (rational), sociocultural (environmental), and apprenticeship-based (guided). Among the most powerful agents of socialization, can be named “the family, the school, the peer group, the media, and the community” (Berns, 2016, p. 77). Subsequently, this enables the conceptualization of the methodological framework, within which teachers/social workers should go about addressing their professional responsibilities in the field. The main guiding principle, in this respect, can be formulated as follows: to succeed in helping children to benefit from indulging in different forms of socialization, those in charge of overseeing the process must possess a systemically sound understanding of the actual forces behind the fluctuating dynamics within the society.
Ecology of the Family
Following my exposure to Chapter 3 (Ecology of the Family), I was able to deepen my understanding of family, as the “society’s nucleus”. In particular, I learned that such a family view is reflective of the very scope of societal functionalities, evoked by the notion, such as reproduction, nurturance, education, assignment of social roles, and economic/emotional support (Berns, 2016, p. 58). This, of course, justifies the adoption of a systemic outlook on what the term “family” stands for, in the sense of influencing how people perceive the significance of familial relationships. The reason for this is that, as it was shown in the Chapter, the actual quality of kin-relationships is the subject of continual transformation. The process’s objective is to ensure that one’s understanding of the concept of family is consistent with whatever happens to be the currently dominant public discourse within the society.
I was also able to learn a great deal about what are the main strategies for strengthening the integrity of interrelations between family members, deployed by social workers in professional settings, as well as about the scope of potential challenges in this respect. Among other things, I confirmed to myself that to be considered professionally adequate, a social worker must apply a continual effort into increasing the level of its intercultural competence. The reason for this is apparent. As it was mentioned in the Chapter, “Cultures differ in interpersonal relations, orientation toward time, valued personally type…” (Berns, 2016, p. 120). Given the ongoing “multiculturalization” of American society, there can be very little doubt about the full validity of such a suggestion, on my part. I also came to realize that, as of today, social workers must be willing to adopt an intellectually flexible outlook on the concept of family, which recognizes the legitimacy of the “same-sex parenting” practice.
Ecology of Parenting
According to how it is defined in Chapter 4 (Ecology of Parenting), parenting is about “implementing a series of decisions about the socialization of your children” (Berns, 2016, p. 125). This definition implies that the concerned process cannot be deemed representing the value of a thing-in-itself, unaffected by environmental circumstances – the main thing that I learned from reading the Chapter. In turn, the nature of these circumstances is predetermined by the intricacies of the discursive climate in the area, reflective of the societal factors of culture, ethnicity, and religion. Even though parenting styles vary rather substantially across the globe, they can still be classified as such that belong to four distinctive categories – authoritarian, permissive, authoritative, and uninvolved. As implied by the author, the appropriateness of the deployment of a particular parenting-paradigm must be evaluated within the context of what accounts for the sociocultural specifics of the region where it is to be implemented. These specifics are, in turn, are indicative of people’s historical affiliation with either the collectivist or individualist values (Berns, 2016, p. 130).
While through the Chapter, I also came to realize that the foremost prerequisite of effective parenting is the parents’ willingness to invest much effort in making sure that the process itself never ceases to remain bidirectionally interactive. This particular consideration implies that, despite the cultural relativism of parenting, as a whole, several universally applicable principles should be observed by parents as they continue with the pursuit. The main of these principles can be formulated as follows – it is non-permissible for parents to consider maltreating children (either physically or mentally), to teach the young ones how to behave in a socially appropriate manner.
Ecology of Nonparental Child Care
From Chapter 5 (Ecology of Nonparental Child Care) I learned what the concept of “non-parental child care” stands for, as well as what kind of quality-criteria apply in this respect. As it appears from the Chapter, these criteria are ultimately concerned with the group’s overall size, the caregiver-child ratio, and the varying measure of the caregiver’s professional adequateness (Berns, 2016, p. 171). The main indications that a child receives high-quality care are as follows – the caregiver’s genuine commitment to trying to benefit the young ones, the safeness of the daycare environment, and the establishment of the objective preconditions for the care-related activities to serve the purpose of facilitating children’s sociocognitive development.
I was also able to gain many insights, as to the legal aspects of providing daycare for children, as well as why the concerned practice should be deemed socially beneficial. The reason for this is that the Chapter contains references to several different longitudinal studies that establish the presence of a positive correlation between the amount of time spent by a child in daycare, on the one hand, and the youngster’s varying ability to adequately react to life-challenges, on the other (Berns, 2016, p. 200). After having read the Chapter, it became apparent to me that to be able to succeed in providing daycare for children, the affiliated practitioners must be aware of what accounts for the behaviorally observable indications of a child making a transition through different developmental phases. This, in turn, implies that caregivers should familiarize themselves with the basic neurological principles of how children undergo maturation.
Ecology of the School
From Chapter 6 (Ecology of the School) I learned to regard just about any school as a “socializing institution”, which is expected to “provide the intellectual and social experiences from which children develop the skills, knowledge, skills, and attitudes” (Berns, 2016, p. 205). Such a definition implies that it would be wrong to assume that the school’s functioning is concerned with educational matters alone. As the Chapter implies, the school’s main function is to endow students with respect for the values of American living. As time passes by, these values become increasingly associated with the governmentally endorsed policies of multiculturalism and political correctness. Hence, the school’s foremost operational objective, “… to balance equity with diversity, enabling ethnically diverse children to assimilate the culture of the majority group while maintaining their distinctive ethnic heritage” (Berns, 2016, p. 208). In its turn, this presupposes that the time has come for teachers to consider switching in favor of the student-centered model of learning.
The reading of this specific Chapter has also taught me how to assess the effectiveness of the educational process in schools, about the process’s micro, Exo, meso, and macro-systemic subtleties. As a result, I was able to confirm to myself even further the full soundness of the idea that there is a positive link between the extent of one’s intercultural competence, on the one hand, and the person’s ability to act as the facilitator of learning in the classroom settings, on the other. I also learned that in the future, the educational paradigm in the US is likely to continue undergoing a certain discursive metamorphosis, in the sense of becoming less “eurocentric” (or “operant”) and more “holistic” (or “emphatic”).
There is very little doubt in my mind that I did benefit rather substantially from having been required to familiarize myself with the book. At the same time, however, it did not escape my attention that there is a speculative quality to many ideas, promoted by the book’s author. Probably the main reason for this has to do with the fact that there is a lack of axiomatic integrity to the author’s conceptualization of “social ecology”, which makes it possible for the significance of the book’s discursive provisions to be interpreted at will. This, however, does not undermine the validity of the author’s suggestions as to what accounts for the practical implications of contemporary trends in the country’s educational domain.
Berns, R. (2016). Child, family, school, and community: Socialization and support. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.