Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

The Need Theory
Abraham Maslow developed one of the most widely used and studied theories in the 1940€™s. He suggested that the behaviour of human beings was directly proportionate to their current needs.According to Maslow, all of us follow the same path of needs, and we are motivated to meet a higher level need only when the lower level has been satisfied. This path of needs he terms €œ The Hierarchy of Needs€.

Survival Needs
All of us have the same basic needs for adequate food, shelter and clothing. However, when any one of these is missing, irritability and discomfort become evident. The only solution to this dilemma is to satisfy these needs. The teacher is in a very good position to assist students in satisfying these needs, by providing information, tools and techniques. As a major knowledge resource in the classroom, the teacher has the ability to motivate students to learn. It is this information that is the foundation for acquiring jobs or starting careers that will help prepare for meeting their own basic survival needs.Also, the idea of €œsticking it out€ or surviving the pressure of the class or school for that matter, over the long haul, despite the difficulties, is part of the desire to survive.

Security Needs
The desire to feel safe is inherent in all human beings, not only for themselves but for their families as well. Freedom from danger, pain or personal threats is an immense motivator to create a secure environment. To promote a sense of security for students, the teacher needs to create a welcoming and non-threatening environment. This includes ensuring that no student is persecuted or victimised by the group, or made to feel isolated.

Social Needs
Included at this level of the hierarchy is a combination of love, affection, friendship, and a general feeling of belonging and acceptance. During class, a teacher often acts as a quality assurer for class projects, discussions and related learning activities. The notion of group work is to help students learn the skills necessary for forming relationships as they work out problems, find solutions to cases, and related group work. It is critical that all students feel a part of the class, and are accepted as equals within the group of students. This acceptance will produce feelings of confidence and a willingness to participate fully in all class or group activities. The teacher must be alert to any sign that a student is being overshadowed or ignored by the more dominant members of the group.

Esteem Needs
The motivation to satisfy the ego of human beings rests in the nature of what is experienced and achieved. These include the need for status, recognition and personal achievement, all of which gives us a form of self-respect and dignity. The human ego is very fragile, and even more so when competition with others is present. It is the teacher€™s responsibility to monitor the behaviour and responses of all students, to ensure that feelings are not crushed by harsh words. It is also imperative that the teacher recognises his/her power and hence exercises fairness and sensitivity when grading papers, giving recognition and responsibility to students. Failure to do so could result in a decreased level of self-esteem for the students.

The need to reach our highest potential is at the pinnacle of the hierarchy of needs. Not all persons attain this level of expression, but those that do are motivated by an internal drive to accomplish goals beyond their own expectations. This level of attainment is not necessarily propelled by money, recognition, or social needs.

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