During their formative years, children are exposed to a variety of environmental influences that are extremely important in shaping their entire development. Children learn, literally as well as figuratively, from the adult and peer role models with whom they regularly interact (Ramey & Ramey, 1999). At issue in this brief essay is an analysis of how the home environment of children influences their development and shapes their learning. The issue is firmly positioned within what Ramey and Ramey 9199) have called the "nature vs. nurture" debate.
Social scientists and educators use the term socialization to refer to the lifelong social experience by which individuals develop their human potential and learn culture (Macionis, 115). Theorists distinguish between the role of nature and nurture in shaping personality. Nature generally refers to biological or physiological qualities or traits. Nurture, in contrast, refers to environmental factors that are at work in shaping behavior.
Nurture includes, but is not limited to, the kind and quality of care that is given to the infant and young child by his or her parents. This includes emotional as well as physical aspects of care such as proper nutrition and medical care. It encompasses providing children with a loving, caring and supportive home environment in which love is available.
Children reared in abusive homes may become hostile, aggressive, or withdrawn. They may themselves become abusive as adults or playground bullies. In contrast, children who are raised in caring and loving homes may develop positive personality traits and become caring adults. Nurture therefore encompasses behaviors and attitudes that are learned. The evolutionary perspective generally assets that behavior and attitudes result from an interaction of nature and nurture or internal development and traits and external influences (Jones & Butman, 1991). It proposes that learning also in...