abraham maslow theory of education
Maslow’s final stage is Self-Actualization. In theory, if students have all of the previous stages met, they can achieve and create at their full potential. Do we automatically assume that all students should be achieving at their full potential once they enter the classroom? We know that this is not a reality, we just need to look at ourselves when we’re impacted by any of the characteristics noted above.
At times it can be confusing to apply theory into the practical realities of a classroom. So let’s talk specifics. We may have a limited influence on the home lives of our students. Though once they enter our school, we have the opportunity to assess student needs and then work to adapt our instruction to meet their needs. Below are the general stages in order and descriptions of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:
Start with students’ physiological needs — food, clothing and shelter — because it is impossible to advance to higher needs if students are hungry, don’t have warm enough clothes, or have to sleep on the street. Some schools apply this level of Maslow’s hierarchy by offering breakfast or lunch programs to ensure the basic nutrition needs of their students are being met. In the United States, schools have provided low-cost or free lunches since 1946, when President Truman signed the National School Lunch Act.
Applying Abraham Maslow’s theory of a pyramid-shaped hierarchy — physiological needs, personal safety, social affiliation, self-esteem and self-actualization — to education is an ideal way to assess lesson plans, courses and educational programs. Like the rungs of a ladder, each need has to be met before progressing to the next level. By asking themselves whether the five needs are being met in their school or classroom, educators can assess how well they are applying Maslow’s hierarchy to their teaching practice. Students may move back and forth on the hierarchy, so it is important to have ongoing assessments of how well their needs are being met.
(a) human beings are motivated by a hierarchy of needs.
(b) Trying new things instead of sticking to safe paths;
November 2, 2017 by Denisha Jones
I was immediately intrigued by the idea of applying Maslow’s theory to a school, especially if this new application would provide an additional way to measure school equity. So I created a new pyramid of hierarchy needs but identified how each need applied to schools. The needs remain the same, but instead of focusing on the individual, we now examine the school to determine if it is providing the environment and experiences that will allow children to successfully have their needs met. In many ways, this new view of a hierarchy of needs shifts from what could be a deficit view of children (i.e., the child lacks self-esteem and cannot learn). And moves to an emphasis on how the school culture can impact a child’s ability to thrive (i.e., the school values and respects all students).
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