Urie Bronfenbrenner Quotes
We as a nation need to be reeducated about the necessary and sufficient conditions for making human beings human. We need to be reeducated not as parents–but as workers, neighbors, and friends; and as members of the organizations, committees, boards–and, especially, the informal networks that control our social institutions and thereby determine the conditions of life for our families and their children.
In the United States, it is now possible for a person eighteen years of age, female as well as male, to graduate from high school, college, or university without ever having cared for, or even held, a baby; without ever having looked after someone who was old, ill, or lonely; or without ever having comforted or assisted another human being who really needed help… No society can long sustain itself unless its members have learned the sensitivities, motivations, and skills involved in assisting and caring for other human beings.
Thus if we know a child has had sufficient opportunity to observe and acquire a behavioral sequence, and we know he is physically capable of performing the act but does not do so, then it is reasonable to assume that it is motivation which is lacking. The appropriate countermeasure then involves increasing the subjective value of the desired act relative to any competing response tendencies he might have, rather than having the model senselessly repeat an already redundant sequence of behavior.
Turning on the television set can turn off the process that transforms children into people… It is primarily through observing, playing, and working with others older and younger than himself that a child discovers both what he can do and who he can become — that he develops both his ability and his identity.
Witness the American ideal: the Self-Made Man. But there is no such person. If we can stand on our own two feet, it is because others have raised us up. If, as adults, we can lay claim to competence and compassion, it only means that other human beings have been willing and enabled to commit their competence and compassion to us–through infancy, childhood, and adolescence, right up to this very moment.
In today’s world parents find themselves at the mercy of a society which imposes pressures and priorities that allow neither timenor place for meaningful activities and relations between children and adults, which downgrade the role of parents and the functions of parenthood, and which prevent the parent from doing things he wants to do as a guide, friend, and companion to his children.