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What are the implications of Abraham Maslow's theory?


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Maslow's hierarchy of needs also as some powerful implications for our public education system.  When our students most basic needs are not being met, they cannot move up Maslow's pyramid. Students need to be fed, clothed, housed, and safe before they can even form social relationships properly, much less achieve at higher levels of esteem and self-actualization.  There is some occasional nod to this, for example, free school breakfasts and lunches, but if we want generations of self-actualized, well-educated participants in democracy, we need to address the most basic needs of students, and meeting those needs is the only way we can ensure that our students can succeed in school and go on to be happy, healthy, and productive, and engaged citizens. 

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Abraham Maslow's theory of the hierarchy of needs has implications for many different fields.

In politics, it suggests that any system of government needs to provide a foundation on which people can build lives that satisfy multiple different types of needs. On the most basic level, societies need to make sure people's physical needs are met, including adequate food and shelter, clean air, clean water, and medical care. Universal health care, which enables people to meet the basic physical need for health, regardless of income, fulfills both the need for security and for physical comfort and safety. On the next level, security is extremely important. People are not free to pursue higher needs for self-actualization or esteem if they fear for their lives or even feel financially on the brink of bankruptcy. 

In business, this suggests that managers realize that most employees, if their lower level needs are met adequately, will strive for the higher needs of esteem or self-actualization. Assuming employees have adequate pay and health insurance, and work in a physically comfortable environment, they will naturally try to do a good job for the sake of the intrinsic rewards of self-actualization and esteem. Constant micro-managing and assessment, creating an environment of insecurity, is actually counterproductive, because when  the lower level need for security is not being met, employees are less free to strive for excellence.

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