How could you analyze a student deciding to skip class in terms of Maslow's hierarchy of needs?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Maslow's hierarchy of needs was mainly developed to account for our large-scale needs and motivations over the course of our lives, and has only limited explanatory value for specific actions. 

At the lowest level on the hierarchy are physiological needs. Unless these are satisfied, people have great difficulty doing anything else. So, for example, if you are a subsistence farmer, spending 10 to 16 hours a day working in the fields and still don't have enough food, your primary concern will be pure survival, and you are unlikely to devote much time to anything else. As most students are not in danger of imminent starvation, whether a student skips class or not to get a meal is generally a matter of ability to delay gratification than actual physiological needs. A better example would be a student who slips on ice and breaks her arm on her way to class; she would genuinely need to attend to the physiological need of getting her arm treated.

The second level is security. The Islamic State in the past few years has been killing and abducting girls who wish to get an education. Thus girls might stay home rather than attend school in countries such as Afghanistan or northern Nigeria because they fear for their lives.

The next level consists of social needs, our need to feel loved, admired or appreciated. For most people who have enough food and do not fear for their lives, these are the most important of their needs. These have to do with relationships with our friends and family. An example of a literary work in which this affects education is The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, in which the protagonist has a conflict between being accepted by his community on the reservation and attending a better school off the reservation.

The final stage in Maslow's hierarchy is one not reached by all people, and it involves self-actualization, in other words learning and attending class for their own sake rather than due to external motivations such as rewards and punishment or grades.

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