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Explain the relevance of Abraham Maslow's theory in today's world.

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Jonathan Beutlich, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a theory in psychology that is based on five stages of human needs. The needs are as follows: physiological needs, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. Those needs are listed in an order from the bottom to the top of Maslow's pyramid. Maslow's theory also states that the needs of a previous level need to be met before the needs of the next level can be worked toward. This means that a person can't work toward psychological needs when physiological needs, like food, water, and shelter, are not being met. Many educational systems have specific programs that target lower levels of Maslow's hierarchy in order to help students achieve higher levels. For example, many schools participate in the National School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program. Students that attend these schools can receive a meal, and children from low-income families can become eligible for free or reduced-price school meals. The goal is to fulfill base-level physiological needs in order to allow students to work toward higher levels of actualization.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Maslow's hierarchy of needs is perhaps most relevant today in terms of the education of young people.  Many countries are worried that they are not doing a good enough job of educating their youth, particularly those from less-advantaged backgrounds.  Maslow's hierarchy tells us that, in order to educate these children well, we must first attend to their physiological needs (are they getting enough to eat) their safety needs (are their schools and homes safe) and possibly even their love and belonging needs (do they have home environments that fulfill these needs).  In this way, Maslow's ideas help us to have a better understanding of what is needed in order to educate children.

There are other applications of Maslow's hierarchy.  For example, advertisers try to connect their products to various of the needs to make use want to buy them.  However, I would argue that the educational applications of Maslow's theories are the most relevant.

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