Seven years ago I was a member of a group composed of 17 international students for whom English is a second language. The purpose of this group was to improve language proficiency in order to reach specific academic and personal goals. A second purpose was to introduce participants to the lifestyles, attitudes, customs and traditions which are characteristic of Americans. In addition to learning about life in the United States, students also attempted to analyze it. Why is the divorce rate so high? Why do so many American mothers work? Why is there racial tension in the USA? Why do so many adults attend school? These are some of the questions that we wondered about and discussed. Together with my classmates, we studied not only how Americans behave but also what they believe: American philosophies of education and government; American attitudes toward religion, marriage, and family life; the American outlook on life in general; and, of course, the American dream. Classmates explored all these themes in group projects.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs can be a valuable aid when dealing with the process of education. Achieving each of the levels of Maslow’s needs- physiological, safety, social, esteem, and self-actualization- at different times in the educational process makes it difficult to instruct a group of students, each in their own place along Maslow’s pyramid. According to his theory, needs that are in the lower hierarchy must be at least partially met before a person will try to satisfy higher- level needs.
Lately, I have been thinking about why there was so much tension in this particular ESL class and why some of the students did not want to participate. Maslow’s theory helped me understand the importance of those needs. I found many outside influences that may have affected those needs to be met among some of my classmates.
One of the possibilities for example, could be financial concerns. Limited income may force families to live in impoverished...
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