The major strengths and weaknesses of ecological theory
The ecological systems theory by Bronfenbrenner majors in a few areas with respect to human development. The theory focuses on the environment as a natural ecology. The theory presents a person that is still under development as to be the core of the process of development and deeply rooted in the systems of the environment varying from more remote context to immediate setting. A child’s rate of development may be influenced by varying types and levels of environmental effects. The ecological theory argues that there are subsystems in the ecological systems. The subsystems listed include the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem, and chronosystem (Bronfenbrenner, 1994).The microsystem examines the immediate interactions and relationships closest to a child’s environment, the mesosystem looks into the link that exists between influences that are close to a child i.e. the interrelationships that exists between two or more micro-settings(Bronfenbrenner, 1994).
The exosystem on the other hand examines the settings can be affected by, or can affect the child who is still under development. The macrosystem is argued as to be most distant from the child as it constitutes of context that deeply enclose the exosystem, microsystem, and mesosystem such as the contexts of social class, cultural, and subcultural contexts(Bronfenbrenner, 1994). The ecological contexts. Changes that are bound to occur in any of the ecological contexts or in a child’s development context of development which could influence the direction of development in a child are emphasized by the chronosystem. However, Bronfenbrenner’s theory has both strengths and weakness (Danner, 2009).
To begin with, Bronfenbrenner’s theory of ecological system has its most critical point arguing that human development is not exclusive of context. In order to have a better understanding of the theory, it would be inevitable to understand how context would be factored in the development of a human being. However, it is argued that this could be a weakness or a strength of the theory depending on the angle that one takes while viewing it (Danner, 2009). For instance, it could be quite liberating for one to develop an understanding that human beings are products resulting from the interaction between the various systems that surround them while on the other hand, it would be quite reductive to look at almost every aspect of the being as to result from context. It is argued that it is from this two contexts that strengths, biases, and weaknesses are bound (Shaffer & Kipp, 2010).
In order for professionals to get assistance from the ecological theory, it would be important for them to develop a deeper understanding on the concurrence of messages within these contexts. Significantly, Bronfenbrenner’s ecological system model puts more emphasis on the argument that individual development would be more effective when there is a convergence in the systems of belief(Bronfenbrenner, 1994). For instance, when normative behavior in the mesosystem of school and the microsystem of the home collide, challenges are bound to arise. This could be evidently witnessed in a child who is often exposed to violent behavior from home as a means of communication and when they go to school, they would often extend the violent behavior when communicating with their peers (Shaffer & Kipp, 2010).
The ecological theory argues that it turns out that development would occur through a progressive process comprisingmore complex exchanges between the child and a second party more succinctly, a party that is crazy about the child. It further argues that it holds for individuals in the helping fields that for them to be able to comprehend the complex exchanges fully they would be required to articulate and sense collisions between the messages in the ecological systems. This would be one of the ways in which helping professionals would develop an understanding of the ecological theory and its impact on an individual’s development.
In a nutshell, using ecologicalsystem theory provides the users with a powerful tool that assist them in developing a deeper understanding on the influences on a person’s life and the result of such influences on their general development process. The theory also provides an understanding on such broad aspects of development such as culture instilled influences or time in the development of an individual. The theory also assists one in developing coping skills, increasing their internal resources, more succinctly, their skills to solve problems and self-esteem, increase their external resources including organization supports, family, and social networks. Ecologically, the theory gives recognition to the complementarity of an individual within an environment and aims at strengthening each component(Bronfenbrenner, 1994).
The theory also acknowledges that laying a lot of emphasis on an individual or their immediate environment would not be as effective in providing assistance. It acknowledges that interpersonal assistance may take varied forms all aimed at instilling skills for effective coping with one’s environment. Ecological theory looks at social support as an extricable and desirable component for helping strategy and also gives recognition to professionals by laying efforts to assist them in their overall framework for services. The theory is also handy when it comes to understanding the inner meanings and intrapsychic processes, adaptation, interpersonal relationships, motivation, and in assessing ego functions and strengths(Bronfenbrenner, 1994).
Ecological theory also enhances the understanding on interactions between macro, micro, and meso organization levels. The theory does not however provide detailed mechanisms for development. The theory doesn’t also address extensively the issue of social inequalities and power and their respective causes. It is also more focused on offering explanations and descriptions. It also emphasizes more on predictions and improving probabilistic levels of explanation as compared to deterministic levels (Danner, 2009).
Dynamic systems theory strengths and weaknesses
Dynamic system theory is viewed as the broadest and most encompassing theory on development. The theory attempts to include all factors possible that may influence or be in operation at any given stage of development(Miller, 2002). The theory looks at development as to be constant, non-linear/emergent, fluid, and multi-determined. The greatest impact of the dynamic system theory has been in the development of early sensorimotor (Thelen & Bates, 2003). The theory argues that every moment is as a result of history and context asserting that there is not a single component that has causal priority (Thelen, 2005).
According to the theory, development occurs in the process/middle of other activities and things. The theory also accounts for both variability and stability of function and form. It is argued in dynamic system theory that development is dynamic. This implies that a system’s state at any given point in time would depend on its initial states which forms the starting point for all states in the future (Thelen, 2005). The theory argues that it is within a moment that behavior would emerge tough the effects resulting from each behavioral decision would be accumulated for a long duration as each change would set the stage for changes scheduled to take place in the future (Spencer et al., 2006).
The dynamic system theory also argues that development only occurs within a system. It explains that a system is the result of four major things i.e. components, patterns relating the components, the processes that emanate from the interaction of the components, and finally, the outcomes (Thomas, 2001).This implies that a change at any given point in a system would affect other components within the same system. Miller (2002) argues that behavior is both stable and flexible. The theory asserts that organisms would tend to resume their preferred state of relative stability despite the flexibility of their behavior (Miller, 2002). Self-organization of patterns could result into unstable or stable state. According to the dynamic systems theory, stable patterns are resistant to change, frequently performed and easily elicited.
The dynamic system theory has several assumptions. To begin with, the theory assumes that development is nonlinear. It argues that change is the waning and waxing of patterns and not a stage-like progression consisting of new accomplishments (Thelen & Bates, 2003). This implies that in order to understand development, one needs to take their time to study it. The theory also assumes that systems self-organize themselves which implies that patterns that are organized would arise singly from the interaction of internal processes and contextual influences and not a single component has causal priority over the next (Thelen, 2005). This implies that for change to occur, the system would be solely responsible for the particular change.
The theory also argues that cognition, perception, and action combined form an integrated system that partitioning would be impossible. This implies that change in a single aspect within a system would affect other aspects within the same system (Spencer et al., 2005). Dynamic systems theory also assumes individuality i.e. development takes place in individual children in their process of solving their own individual problems in their own distinct way. The theory asserts that it would be difficult for one to predict the course of development due to the difference in children in terms of their daily experiences and activities, their body, and their nervous system. As a result, multiple pathways are presented in the road to development which implies that development has no distinct rules (Thelen, 2005).
The dynamic systems theory places more emphasis on the relationship that exists between the parts of living organisms. The theory looks at the wider picture of the nature of humans as active beings as opposed to being passive. The theory concentrates on changes over time in systems that are complex holistic more succinctly the self-organizing systems as opposed to focusing on innate tendencies.The theory emphasizes the need to consider the interaction among all levels of the system that is still under development, form the cultural to molecular.
The theory also gives credit to both qualitative and quantitative change. The theory asserts that quantitative change would finally result into a wide change within the system given time, which would give rise to a new behavior that is qualitatively distinct (Miller, 2002). This theory also gives credit to the role played by neural systems in development even though looks at innate capacities and maturation of the neural system as to be inadequate in offering an explanation to on the flexibility of behavior and emergence of new behavioral patterns (Spencer et al., 2006). However, the dynamic systems theory does not accord much interest to the debate of nature versus nurture. Thelen argues that what counts most is the flexibility of patterns and whether they can shift depending on the prevailing situation rather than whether behavior is learned or hard-wired (Thelen, 2005).
In a nutshell, the strengths and weaknesses of the dynamic systems theory could be summed up into the following points. Beginning with the strengths, the dynamic systems theory has close relationship with experimental studies. Most of the arguments presented are based on experimental results that were obtained by Thelen. The theory also looks into flexibility and stability as time changes which gives more accurate results at different stages of time. Finally, the theory examines behavior within the bounds of context. However, the dynamic systems theory also has quite a number of weaknesses as it might not adequately address similarities but rather places a lot of emphasis on individual development. The theory also appears to have some contradictions. For instance, Thelen argues that there are general principles of development (Spencer et al., 2006) while at the same time, argues that it would be impossible for one to predict the course of development (Thelen, 2005).
Gibson’s theory of perceptual development and its difference from learning theory and psychodynamic theory
Gibson’s theory of perceptual development
This theory lays more emphasis on the role played by context and the environment in learning. The theory argues that the main reason as to why children learn is to detect information that would distinctively identify events, objects, and layouts within their environment that they can make use of in their daily activities (Gibson, 1995). Gibson’s theory of perceptual development argues that the environment and the perceiver operate within a circle which may start by the environment presenting an opportunity or giving information to prompt an action (Gibson, 1995). The theory also bases on affordance i.e. what is provided to an organism by its environment. Gibson argues that affordance is perceived directly asserting that we perceive things that are physical such as those we can walk on, eat, and sit on just to mention a few.
The theory asserts that it is from experience that new affordance is created. Miller also supports by arguing that it is from the development of new motor skills that children discover new affordance. The theory argues that there is a close relationship between the goals, actions, and abilities of children and what is provided within their environment (Miller, 2002). Gibson argues that affordance is directly perceived which implies that information that is complex would be inherent in stimulation (Miller, 2002). According to Gibson’s view, perceptual learning is a process that entails learning for the purpose of perceiving what has always been there (Gibson, 1997). Gibson’s theory has several assumptions. To begin with, it assumes that children are explorers. It assumes that the human race has evolved adaptive ways of perceiving the world. There is the assumption that information that is complex in nature is inherent in stimulation, the perceptual process entails learning for the purpose of perceiving what is in existence, and also the way we learn in our lives is similar to the way babies learn through exploration of affordance (Miller, 2002).
Gibson’s theory of perceptual development accords more interest to the opportunities of the environment arguing that the process of learning is self-directed. The theory insinuates that the perceived information is distinct from each species however, the theory does not offer an explanation on cognition but instead examines children as they come into contact with their environment. The theory however asserts that it is due to perception that cognition would be possible. According to the theory, perceptual learning never comes to an end. It argues that the only thing that undergoes a transformational change is what is learnt (Gibson, 1995).
Unlike Gibson’s theory of perceptual development, the psychodynamic theory looks at the functioning of the human race as a result of the contact between the forces and drives within the person and between the varying personality structures (Freud, 1895). The theory argues that the unconscious part of personality partly controls behavior. Freud’s psychodynamic theory argues that behavior, thought, and feeling are determined by the interaction of unconscious psychological processes. Freud asserts that personality emanates out of an individual’s struggle in their bid to meet their own personal needs in a world that is frustrating(Freud, 1895).
The theory gives the structure of personality presenting three major structures, the id, the ego, and the superego. It argues that immediate satisfaction is pushed for by the id which normally operates on the principles of pleasure implying that it wants whatever that it wants like right now(Kline, 1989). The ego comes in between the unreasoning demands of the id and the practical constraints within the world of reality, operating in accordance with the reality principle. The superego develops during one’s childhood during the process of introjection as a child which also forms their conscience(Freud, 1895). The theory assumes that our behaviors and feelings are greatly influenced by motives that are unconscious. It also assumes that the feelings and behaviors of adults are rooted in their childhood, and all behavior is determined as all have a cause(Kline, 1989). The theory also assumes that personality is composed of three parts, the id, ego, and superego. The theory assumes that behavior is accelerated by two instinctual drives, Eros and Thanatos which all emanate from the id (Kline, 1989).
Theory of learning
The theory of learning looks at learning in two major ways, learning as a product, and learning as a process. Learning as a product examines learning as an outcome or the final result of some process. The theory argues that the product of learning can be clearly seen. This theory insinuates that the process of learning is often accompanied by change. Looking at learning as a process gives reasons as to why or how changes occur. The theory of learning views learning as a permanent transformation in behavior including both internal processes and activities that can be observed such as emotions, thinking, and attitudes (Burns, 1995). Burns further argues that the observable behavior of learning might not be manifested until a later point in time after the program of education shall have occurred.