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What implications does Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Theory have on today's...

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krevell | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 12, 2012 at 3:55 PM via web

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What implications does Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Theory have on today's educators?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 12, 2012 at 6:39 PM (Answer #1)

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I see two primary realms of significance that Maslow holds on today's educators.  The first is to understand that child's ascension on Maslow's pyramid plays a profound impact on how students learn, function, and advance in the classroom setting.  Maslow's pyramid demands that educators no longer see the classroom as something that is separate from the experiences of a child.  For example, if a child lacks basic necessities or needs such as shelter or food, this will play a role in their learning.  It is not suggesting that these children need to be separated from others, but it must be a factor in how teachers approach the learning process with children.  If a teacher demands that an assignment by typed, and a student is in a different place in Maslow's hierarchy, lacking shelter and necessities such as a computer, the teacher has to realize this and recognize that the same ends are met if the demand for typing is minimized. This is an example of how the hierarchy of needs plays a direct role in how the classroom setting is constructed.

In another way, I think that Maslow's hierarchy set the stage for the modern classroom tenet of differentiation.  Maslow recognizes that different people will be at different points in the needs schematic and will wrestle with these elements at their own pace and in their own progression.  For example, the aforementioned example of the student who struggles with the basic necessities of shelter and food can be seen as a student in the classroom setting that struggles with the basic skills of a curriculum.  The student who enters the classroom fighting through adversity to grasp the basic content being instructed is in one domain of the differentiated pyramid.  At the same time, the student who struggles with another level, such as "Esteem," could be seen as a student who wrestles with how to effectively display the higher- ordered thought processes that a content offers.  In this, a classroom contains different learners at different points in their own understanding of content and Maslow's hierarchy presents a model as to how teachers can see their role in the differentiated classroom, providing resource and support to all learners and trying to move them through the "pyramid" of differentiated content.

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