Abraham Maslow theorized that human beings are motivated by those needs that have not yet been met (Maslow, 4). He believed that there are basic needs that must be satisfied before any other need can be accomplished. For instance, Maslow believed that if an individual was hungry, he or she would not be able to accomplish another need to the best of their ability, until their hunger was satisfied (Maslow, 5). This is a physiological need, and is the foundation in the Hierarchy of Needs.
The pyramid above illustrates what Maslow believed to be the basis of motivation, and when these needs are met, learning becomes positive.
How Will This Pyramid Help Me Teach?
Remember talking about Zull, and how he believes that their is a process to motivation? Maslow also believes this to be true, and he suggests a method like Zull. Starting at the bottom of the pyramid we see that physioligcal needs are the most important, and without the foundation of air, water, food, and sleep, the student will not only be distracted, but in most cases they would probably die. Everyone can agree that this is fundamental not only to learning, but also for survival, something that Zull says the brain needs.
If a student can accomplish the first step, they are then ready to analyze their surroundings: is their home safe, are their parents healthy, do they have insurance, do they have transportation, are they free from emotional harm. It is our job to make sure the student feels safe, inside and outside of the classroom.
Moving further up the pyramid, a student needs to be able to interact with others and feel comfortable talking. They need a sense of belonging and emotional attachment with friends and family.
Getting closer to the top requires that our students feel proud of what they are doing. They need to feel that they belong. They need to be recognized for their accomplishments, and receive attention from their peers and teachers.
If all of these steps are accomplished a student will then be able to reach their full potential. This stage is self-actualization. If a student reaches this stage, they will be able to acquire truth and wisdom.
What Can I Do To Make This Possible?
Maslow suggests that we tend to want what we are lacking the most, or what will help us survive longer (Maslow, 5). As educators we need to be aware of whats going on in our students lives. If we want them to learn and enjoy the material we are teaching, we need to make sure that all of their needs are being met. We simply can not assume that everything is alright just because they show up to class everyday. Maslow believed that we become narrow minded when we desire only a certain goal or want (Maslow, 5). And as educators, we must expand beyond the content we are teaching, and become aware of whats going on in the lives of our students.