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Winston Churchill: An Ecological Systems Approach

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Winston Churchill

An Ecological Sytsems Approach

Nathan Boring


Nathan Boring

Psych 526.50

Summer 2, 2011

Winston Churchill: An Ecological Systems Approach

Winston Churchill was an amazing man who was very influential during one of the bleakest times of modern human history. He was a determined leader of British Politics in the 20th century, an accomplished writer, and a respected leader of military forces. He was an important figure during both World War I and World War II. He had many great victories and many crushing defeats in his life and career. His life is a shining example of the value of perseverance in the face of adversity.


Winston Churchill was the leader that was necessary for Britain during both of the World Wars. He was not a member of the popular political party of the time. He knew what had to be done and could motivate people to resolve to do it. He had many obstacles to overcome from his adolescence to his resignation as Prime Minister of England. Bronfenbrenner's theory will provide an interesting framework with which to examine the life of Winston Churchill.

Bronfenbrenner's Model

Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Systems Theory considers many factors in the development of a person and considers the impact that each of them had. According to Paquette, & Ryan ( 2001) there are five main systems that are included in Broffenbrenner's theory. They are Microsystem, Mesosystem, Exosystem, Macrosystem and Chronosystem. The Microsystem includes the person's family, peers, school, and community. The individual has some control over these relationships. The Mesosystem refers to the relation of one microsystem to another, such as the way relationships at home influence relationships at school. These relationships can be positive or negative. The Exosystem refers to relationships which are outside the realm of control of the individual, such as the work environment of a parent. The child cannot change this, but it may affect his or her life. For example, a parent who is under great stress at work may be volatile when they come home. The Macrosystem is the culture in which the individual lives. This may include socioeconomic factors, ethnicity and regional and national cultures. The final system in Broffenbrenner's theory is the Chronosytem. It was added after the original four systems and will not be discussed further in this paper. The Chronosytem refers to the patterns of events and transitions of an individual's life. Each of these systems is affected and acted upon by the other systems. For the purposes of this paper each of the four orignalsystems will be considered using Bronfenbrenners' model of Process-Person-Context-Time. Process will refer to the way the individual interacts with the things they are most often in direct contact with. This will be the most influential on their development. Person will refer to the differences in the individual, how they responded, and what things had impact on the individual. Context refers to the place that the individual is situated in and how that affects them. Time refers to the time period in which the individual is living.

Summary of Churchill

Winston Churchill's childhood was full of challenges and failures. His relationship with his parents was poor; many of his school experiences were unsuccessful and even traumatic. He learned to cope with failure and continue trying even when things when things were extremely difficult. He developed a passion for adventure and challenge that helped drive him for the remainder of his life. Winston Churchill's career was not without blemish. He was responsible for many deaths and mistakes, but he was eventually responsible for much of the victory over the Triple Alliance in WWI and the "Axis of Evil" in WWII . The question that I will use Bronfenbrenner's theory to answer is "How did the events of Winston Churchill's youth contribute to him becoming a successful leader?"

Churchill's Childhood

Winston Churchill came from a family of political leaders. His father was the Duke of Marlborough as other members of his family had been. He was born in Blenheim palace which was built for one of his ancestors, the first Duke of Marlborough. Winston's family did not see him as worthy of the position of Duke of Marlborough. His Aunt said to another Aunt "Your first duty is to have a child and it must be a son, because it would be intolerable to have that little upstart Winston become Duke."(Wallace, 2011) Not only did his extended family not believe in him, but "His father thought Winston was retarded, rarely spoke to him, and frequently vented his mounting rage on the child"(Mansfield, 38). Clearly his relationship with his father was poor, even abusive. Later in life Winston could only recall ever having had three or four conversations with his father. His mother was not available to the child either. She was described as having devoted herself completely to social ambition. During Winston's childhood she would be with him only at prearranged times and even then only with servants to take care of anything that might be needed. This is certainly not a description of a nurturing family.

For Winston the real parenting came from his nanny Elizabeth Anne Everest. She was described as jolly and very overprotective, the seeming opposite of his parents. "During Churchill's "solitary and unhappy childhood school days Mrs. Everest was his comforter, his strength and stay, his one source of unfailing human understanding. She was he fireside at which he dried his tears and warmed his heart. She was the light by his bed. She was security.""(Mansfield, 39) His Nanny was what helped him overcome the abandonment he felt from his parents and taught him to be a devoted Christian which he later rejected but came back to in battle to give him strength.

School life was very difficult for young Winston as well. He went away to St. George's School in Ascot which was described as a "dark and painful period of his life".(Mansfield,40) The headmistress at the school would bring all of the students to the library several times a



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