Knowledge and the influences of one’s environment were the topics of this module. Urie Bronfenbrenner was the biggest conceptual contributor to our discussions with his Bioecological model of development, which demonstrates the influential levels of relationships by way of environmental systems (micro-, meso-, exo-, and macro-) and the people in them.
What does this have to do with teaching?
Understanding your students is key for connection and communication. As a future teacher, if I’m not able to build a rapport with them, how am I going to run a successful class? The image above is Bronfenbrenner’s model that shows all of the influences of a child. While school is in the first degree of separation in terms of influence, it is only one of many that has the ability to impact a child. We must recognize the other factors in order to be successful, especially if two or more of those contradict one another. Recognizing and mediating inner animosity in a child can be the key to getting through to him/her.
In class discussion, we also brought up parenting style concepts (authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and neglect) and cultural influences. KNowing these as a teacher will help immensely, if not purely for the relationship of parenting and teaching, then for the background knowledge to establish a deeper connection with students. The effects of an authoritative parent can be vastly different on a child than that of a neglectful parenting style. While the scholastic expectations are the same for either student., the outcome can be dictated by that parenting relationship in regards to ability to communicate, feelings of parental investment (kids know when you care!) and not only permission, but encouragement to express themselves.
Never assume the worst!
Both of the psychological models are awesomely beneficial in terms of giving instructors a baseline for relationship establishment with students, however, they have some drawbacks. Neither takes intrinsic motivation of the child into account. While we all are a product of our environment in some way, we have the power and autonomy to reach our own goals that may not be positively influenced by our home-life. It is our responsibility as educators to invest in and encourage that intrinsic resilience in our students to do well.