Maslow's Theory of Hierarchical Needs
Copyright 2005 by Charles Brickman
We are probably all familiar with Abraham Maslow's Theory of Hierarchical Needs; Psychological Needs, Safety Needs, Belongingness and Love Needs, Esteem Needs, Need to Know and Understand, Aesthetic Needs, and Self-Actualization Needs. And we probably all remember that according to Maslow's theory, needs that are in the lower hierarchy must be at least partially met before a person will try to satisfy higher-level needs. Although ultimately our goal is to aid students in self-actualizing or becoming "all that one can be," they must first achieve the level of Need to Know and Understand.
But what does this mean for teachers and how does it impact student performance and learning in the classroom? Schools and government agencies have long realized that if students' basic needs are not met student performance will suffer. The advent of free breakfast and lunch programs were a direct result of such considerations. Unfortunately, these measures address only part of the first tier of Maslow's theory; physiological needs. Addressing basic physiological needs is still a key concern in today's classroom. Lack of proper nutrition, personal hygiene and even sleep affect many of today's students. In lower socioeconomic areas these concerns are further accentuated. These basic needs must be met before the student can reach the next level.
Student safety needs play a critical role in achieving student success. The need for a structured and safe classroom is essential for student growth and progression. A structured classroom provides psychological safety for the student. By having knowledge of clearly defined and established processes, procedures, rules and practices you eliminate students' fear of the unknown. By gaining knowledge of the expected dynamics of the classroom the student gains more control of their environment simply by being aware of what is going to happen before it happens....
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