The theory of Maslow is widely used for investigating the needs of human beings. According to Maslow (1943), people naturally long to be self-actualised and to get to achieve this goal, there are steps as per the hierarchy of needs.
He states that individuals have basic needs to their existence and that these needs are prioritized in a certain hierarch. He classifies the basic needs from the lowest to peak of the pyramid and defines them as physiological needs, safety needs, social needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization. He states that ‘these basic goals are related to each other, being arranged in a hierarchy of prepotency’. p. 394.
He argues that once you have satisfied a motivational need ‘at once other (and higher) needs emerge’ (Maslow 1943, p375). Such as meeting physiological needs such as food, water and not safety needs will make an individual focus on achieving these physical safety needs. Belonging to a family, social or professional, religious or fraternity group comes as a social need in Maslow theory which is followed by esteem need, where individual want to be respected and recognised for their achievement and status. Maslow refers this to ‘the desire for reputation or prestige. (p. 381).
Self-actualization, is the highest level where individual need ‘to become everything that one is capable of becoming’. (p.382). Harpet, et.al 2003 suggest that for a person to fulfil basic needs, there are determinants which make it happen such as individual’s social class, economic, political, religious as well as environment resources in any culture. From an adult perspective, children are vulnerable thus inevitably they need to be provided with the physiological needs (food, water, warmth, rest and sleep) hence in a school, children learning environment should ensure these needs are catered for. As a teacher having attentive and interested children is important as they motivate them to learn, participate, and make the learning interactive. By carefully considering their assignments including homework and providing the necessary support allow them to have time to rest and get enough sleep hence zeal for next day.
Safety needs including protection, security, order, law, stability and freedom from fear. It is my role as a teacher to ensure that children are provided with these needs or their enablers, while in school as feeling safe develops their trust towards the institution. I ensure that classroom are warm environments and not risky places where children can get hurt from broken items as well as having enough lighting and air circulation. Furthermore I establish a routine for students where they know what to expect in a classroom and create safe place where they can feel comfortable asking and answering questions without fear from being mocked by other students.Children in their development stage learn more through observation and playing for instance in sports and team activities. They should be made to feel accepted, loved and part of the group in which they belong.
Maslow likened this to Rogers’s definition of love where he describes it as ‘that of being deeply understood and deeply accepted’ (Goble, 1970). The sense of affiliation plays a major role in a child’s development as it gives them confidence whilst they learn how to interact with different people in the group. I believe that this is a very critical need as it motivates behaviour and so should be dealt with great tact and care. In my classroom I reinforce positive student behaviour frequently and appreciate students with their uniqueness and encourage them to harness their strength knowing that with consistent hard work and practice they can learn and become good at anything. Maslow further grouped esteem needs into two; esteem for oneself (dignity, achievement, mastery, independence) and the desire for respect from others. Another very critical set of needs for children as it precedes real self-esteem.
Children want to be respected and appreciated as if forms their self-esteem. By giving them guidance and support through their learning they can unearth their knowhow thus enhancing their capabilities and confidence. Self-actualisation need as described by Maslow as what ‘a man can be, he must be, the need people have to achieve to their full potential’. Children’s capabilities should fully be exploited by ensuring that I provide them with the necessary support and guidance though effective feedback and enabling environment for them to attain self-belief and growth hence drive to self-fulfilment.All theories are not flawless and as a teacher applying different theories against following Maslow’s needs hierarchy is important in order to create learning environment that motivate students. Nevertheless as a teacher I realise students are very diverse consequently, there is a challenge to motivate entire classroom. There are limitations to Maslow theory in that there are no clear separation between intrinsic and extrinsic rewards.
Critics have come up with other theories which agree and disagree with some of Maslow’s theory Alderfer’s (1969) theory for example suggests that along with the satisfaction progression process there is also a frustration regression stage and therefore people will travel up and down the hierarchy depending on the process and also states that all needs could be active at any given time and one does not necessarily have to be satisfied before the next need emerges. Maslow theory claims that culture does not change the hierarchy of needs but this is disputed by McClelland’s theory believe that needs are learned or acquired by the kind of events people experience in their culture.