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ERIC Number: ED406072
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1996-Oct-13
Pages: 13
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: N/A
Using Human Ecological Approaches To Study Rural Childhood.
Beach, Betty A.
This paper recommends that rural education researchers adopt an ecological approach that acknowledges both family and community influences on child development and school outcomes. Although rural researchers have generated useful information about children, few studies have provided a full portrayal of rural children's lives. A fundamental principle of ecological research is a focus on the interrelationships of systems (mesosystems) in which the child develops. Connections between the child, the child's family, and other aspects of the child's life (school, peer group, recreational activities) are multiple and dense in rural communities. Rural researchers need to identify how these systems interact through case studies, time diaries, and naturalistic observations and interviews. Social capital is a term characterizing the role that formal and informal communities play in child development. Although researchers acknowledge the existence of social capital in rural communities, the specific relationships among social capital, rural children, and the corresponding role of the rural community as an ecological factor have yet to be investigated. An ecological approach could identify community characteristics that hinder or enhance child development. For example, one researcher has proposed that areas that are more rural are less socially healthy for children's development. Case studies of the mesosystems of rural children in communities of varying size might answer the question of when small is good and when it is too little. Ecological studies that analyze children's developing sense of place and the role of play in children's development can focus on other mesosystems. An ecological approach, with its special sensitivity to the setting in which children develop, can provide a rich portrayal of rural children's lives and recognize uniquely rural qualities. (Contains 16 references.) (LP)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A