The Young Child In Culture Essay


Patch 1: The ‘Ecology’ of the young child in culture
In this first patch, write 500 words that address the following topic:
What/who is a child?
Also think about:
what is a child's place in a human ecological system?
How do children participate in everyday culture
You must link your writing to at least 3 academic references that help to support your points and signpost the sources of your thinking.
Patch 2: Images of Childhood(s)
For this task, you will carefully select 2 images (photographs or artistic renderings) that depict young children in ordinary activities. These images should be ones that make you think about how young people (birth to age 8) experience their early life as a member of a society and a culture, and also how society and culture have expectations about children’s early lives. The images should not be extraordinary nor exotic (they should not be of child soldiers or beauty pageants), they should depict ordinary life activities such as family life, playing at home, in the neighbourhood, or at school. They could be images of children on special occasions, such as birthdays, holy days, or holidays if you’d like, so long as these activities would be considered fairly ordinary within the society and culture that the child is a part of. You will want to select images that give you something to talk about and think about. You will want to select images that depict the setting in which the image was rendered.
One of the images should be one that you can comment on from an ‘insider’ perspective with regard to culture (an image that represents the culture you identify with). The other image should be one that you will not be as familiar with – so that you can ‘read’ and comment on the photo from an ‘outsider’ perspective. It will be very good of you to work with a peer from your seminar group, someone who has a different ‘cultural’ background than you. With each other’s permission, you could share photographs, talking with each other about how culture is represented in each of the photos. For your submission you might use your peers photo for the ‘outsider’ perspective (with their permission).
For the patch that you submit, you will use these images to discuss the intersection of children within culture, and as a prompt to write about how culture constructs and understanding of children and culture. Bring these images and your draft writing to the seminar next week. It is essential that you do this, for the seminar is devoted to sharing writing and providing feedback.


The ‘Ecology’ of the young child in culture

Childhood is primarily defined as the definitive period from the date of birth to that of the age of seven or eight. It is the period when a child can be categorized under the phase and boundary of small children with characteristics like- complete immaturity, fully dependent quality, ignorant towards the social norms and inherently good with innocence. During this period, the relationship between the adult and child as well as the interaction pattern point towards- indulgence, unquestioned obedience along with expectations of deference (Guralnick, 2001). Therefore, when it comes to childhood, a constructive way of the development of children on the viewpoint of culture that influences their perspectives towards the society as it is obvious that they don’t have a voice with strongly contested standpoints but in the future, their lives will be shaped by these cultural perspectives and it will determine their mindsets (Nader et al., 2006).

The place of a child in the human ecological system

The very famous Bronfenbrenner’s theory of child development highlights an innovative concept which reconciles the numerous environmental systems present in the society that have possible impacts on the child development. Urie Bronfenbrenner is a Russian American psychologist, according to whom child development is affected by the surrounding environment which includes the different cultures of a society. The relationship among the children, the society, the teachers and the families is everything that has impact on the development of children as per the study of Oswalt. The theory of ecological systems can be divided into multiple levels as micro system, mesosystem, macro system, chronosystem and exosystem (Brooker & Woodhead, 2010). A child is more close to his parents as well as his family which defines the micro system of the ecology in line with the study of Sincero and it establishes the mental and physical development of children that includes a child’s relationship with teachers, neighbors, friends and families. Doll-Yogerst in 2011 stated that ecological systems model helps in recognizing the child’s development which is mainly affected by the surroundings related to the everyday activities during which a child spends most of its day (Doll-Yogerst, 2011). For instance, parents of a child greatly affect its behavior as well as beliefs and in the same way the child also has impact on the behavior and belief of the parents. Apart from all of these, other elements of a society, like- peers, preschool, child care center and kindergarten have also impact on the development of children which has been illustrated in the study of Doll-Yogerst.

Participation of children in everyday culture

Source: (Reilly et al., 2005)

Anthropologist Ruth Benedict mentioned that the children who are raised in traditional and non-industrial style of societies have different perspectives in future along with different mindsets and attitudes than that of the modern societies. The comparative approach of different social and cultural construction in case of child development is the core technique here. Participation of children in diverse institutional collectives has been categorized into three major aspects, society, institution and individual which have been demonstrated in the above figure. Family practices, preschool practices and schooling practices are the key value positions according to Vygotsky and Hedegaard in their social situation of development as well as conceptualized participation of the child development theory respectively (Phillips & Shonkoff, 2000). The home practices and the social situations of the child development are influenced by their participation in the cultural activities going on in the society.

Images of Childhood(s)

Cultural knowledge gets strengthened by the diverse images of children in their early childhood days. Most of the parents focus on cognitive play along with outdoor environmental learning. But the key thing about early childhood learning is based on the cultural learning of the children by childhood images as it affects the mental, physical, psychological and emotional states during infancy the most (Sothebys, 2016). According to ECE professional, like- Raelin’s study in 2007, insider perspective regarding a culture and outsider perspective with the cultural learning of a totally diverse cultural group have the best positive impact on the behavior of a child. The images, stories and the assumptions from these images get carried for a long time as the derived mental models represented by top children educationalists, like- Rogoff, Vygotsky, Bronfenbrenner and Piaget (Phillips & Shonkoff, 2000).

Source: (Sothebys, 2016).

During the twentieth and twenty first century, this image has been quite dominant in the universalized style of mass schooling that reflects the sentimental view of the children. With this image of everyday activity, innocence along with vulnerability gets implanted in the minds of the children (Odom & Wolery, 2003). With this approach, a young child under the age of eight year understands as well as recognizes that he/she is an imperative part of the society. Therefore, active engagement of images of childhood is required in case of the adults so that the children will be inclined towards the cultures of their respective societies.

Source: Arua, Uganda. Family having lunch in front of their hut in a village near Arua. Achim Pohl/Das Fotoarchiv/Still Pictures

This image is for the outsider perspective based on the intersection of the children towards the culture of a totally unfamiliar culture and with this approach comments based on the outsider perspective on this photo can be given. For this, involvement of peers from different cultural background plays a vital role (Phillips & Shonkoff, 2000). This peers photograph is for the outsider perspective of child development that reflects the polycropping culture of Africa. It highlights the shared but social aspects of identity in spite of an individual style of childhood. According to Vygotsky, it is totally different from the other Western perspective where the social process is depicted quite differently with this traditional African culture which shows strong relationship with the society. Zimba described it as a very nice quote-“An individual is only an individual with the other people” and this South African Zulu culture delineates it as nurturing. Traditional social values by cultural ceremonies, like- naming, christening, marriage, death are the main focus here which have been stated by Erikson that put meaningful social roles with sentiment in the minds of these small children (Nader et al., 2006). According to Nsamenang, with this approach the children learn the responsible participation by which they individuate themselves interconnecting with the society on their way to adult identity that shape their real life tasks in future.


Brooker, L. and Woodhead, M., 2010. Culture and Learning (Vol. 6). The Open University.

Bronfenbrenner, U., 1970. Two Worlds of Childhood: US and USSR New York: Simon & Shuster.

Doll-Yogerst, D. and Magnin, M.A., 2011. Tapping Into Teen Concerns, Perceptions and Behavior in Oconto County, WI. Oconto County University of Wisconsin-Extension.

Guralnick, M.J., 2001. Early Childhood Inclusion: Focus on Change. Paul H. Brookes Publishing Company, PO Box 10624, Baltimore, MD 21285-0624.

Mahoney, G., Kaiser, A., Girolametto, L., MacDonald, J., Robinson, C., Safford, P. and Spiker, D., 1999. Parent Education in Early Intervention A Call for a Renewed Focus. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education,19(3), pp.131-140.

Nader, P.R., O'Brien, M., Houts, R., Bradley, R., Belsky, J., Crosnoe, R., Friedman, S., Mei, Z. and Susman, E.J., 2006. Identifying risk for obesity in early childhood. Pediatrics, 118(3), pp.e594-e601.

Odom, S.L. and Wolery, M., 2003. A Unified Theory of Practice in Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education Evidence-Based Practices. The Journal of Special Education, 37(3), pp.164-173.

Phillips, D.A. and Shonkoff, J.P. eds., 2000. From Neurons to Neighborhoods:: The Science of Early Childhood Development. National Academies Press.

Reilly, J.J., Armstrong, J., Dorosty, A.R., Emmett, P.M., Ness, A., Rogers, I., Steer, C. and Sherriff, A., 2005. Early life risk factors for obesity in childhood: cohort study. Bmj.

Sothebys, (2016). Ecole Fran?aise du XVIIIe si?cle. [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Jan. 2016].

How to cite this essay: