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Maslow Theory


This paper provides a concise critique on the relevance, application, and overarching effect of the famous Maslow hierarchy of needs with regard to the modern day school functional system. Philosophers have proposed new ways and strategies in view of the human mind development, physical, and emotional emancipation. Maslow’s theory provides a vertical structure emphasizing on the significant levels of the developmental process of a human towards self-actualization. Modern day school strategies such as the inclusion of family and community components, the paradigm shift from specialized institutions, and the infusion of diversity in modern day systems have a significant correlation with Maslow’s Hierarchy. Its application to the modern day teacher is also significant concerning personal development and human contextual variations


Abraham Maslow is renowned as the father of the infamous Maslow hierarchy of needs. He proposed the theory in a bid to expound the critical stages in the normal development of human persona and organizational structures. In the contemporary world, the theory is widely applicable in the development of critical strategies in a number of fields. These include management training, personal development, and human motivation. These are essentially achieved through the following key stages albeit in an incremental manner. The stages are as follows represented in a progressive triangular configuration:


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Aesthetic needs

Needs to know and understand

Esteem Needs

Social Needs

Safety Needs

Physiological Needs (Butcher, 2005)

In as much these systems prove to be more associated with Maslow hierarchy of needs the existing school systems derive much of their success from it with regard to diversity in education settings, the move towards specialized (special) education programs, and the sensitization towards the involvement of family and community systems in the education system.

Strategies used in school today in relation to Maslow

Family and Community Involvement in the Education System

The recent enhancement of family involvement models in educational settings has seen tremendous improvement in the recent past. A critical example is the establishment of the family-community-school course as part of the early childhood teacher-training curriculum found in the University of Georgia (Coleman and Wallinga, 1999). This program essentially has received a significant number of professional reviews in the recent times all in a bid to promote an increased towards the devotion to family involvement models. This has subsequently led to an increased progress in research, programs, and practices seen in the recent past. This is an indicator of an increased interest towards the enhancement of such kind of programs due to a general influence from interaction with other communities towards the development recognition of the significance in developmental and educational influences. This critically provides satisfactory content on the emphasis on social needs, which entail the need of belongingness (Butcher, 2005).

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The programs have are generally associated with an increases communication to students over their expectations regarding children’s role in school settings. This is an important in the enhancement of children’s interest in educational programs occasioned by an influx of multicultural influences, which could have negative effects on a child’s education interests (Certo, 1986). Looking at the Maslow hierarchical postulation the achievement of social needs is essentially enabled through the existence of a proper social structure in regard to the child’s proper development. Teachers are hence in a position to play a better role in motivating children’s interest in education going by the popular old adage ‘charity begins at home.’ This provides a component on the social needs, belongingness and ultimately there is the additional emphasis on esteem needs with regard to the multicultural component (Butcher, 2005). The motivational aspects enhanced in the learning model provide this need.

The model also encourages families to engage their children in continuous conversations regarding the progress in school with regard to their school work. This is important as the child eventually develops a natural interest in the education program (Jacobs and Kristonis, 2006).). The teacher can further benefit the learners by encouraging families to provide their children with home learning experiences. This is essentially important as it develops a conducive learning environment in the home setting, this is critically important in enhancing an increased interest in education. The program can further be developed by giving the families an opportunity to provide a significant contribution into the curriculum development process for particular programs, which have a profound effect on the human nature. This is important in that children joining the programs are able to associate with the fact that this was not a prescribed curriculum from unknown authorities. The children are hence are able to dispel any negative aspects of the program especially for racially sensitive zones (Certo, 1986). This is evident in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as seen in the development of safety and social needs. Once a child’s physiological needs have been developed, students are in a better position to associate with their other needs.

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This model therefore provides a continuous and smooth transgression towards the achievement of higher needs. The family-community-school model, which is entrenched in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, also provides an avenue for families to get involved in the development of recommended values for the school system. This possible through provision of a program in which the families communicate their prime expectations and values to the already established school system especially in the enhancement of early childhood practices. This therefore calls for an increased efficiency in the development of critical structural linkages between family involvement and family/school interpersonal interactions (Coleman and Wallinga, 1999). Such a creation of critical inter-linkages serves to further cement the aspect of progressive learning, which is factor in achieving belongingness, alignment of social stratification in the school setting and further provisional aspects regarding the progression in the aesthetic component commonly missing in the learning systems.

This is very evident as seen in a recent forum by the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development, in which the following a deliberation was made that the role played by the interpersonal/individual-based dynamics in the encouragement of a working mutuality between educational institutional settings and families fosters the development of school-family rights, responsibilities, and communication among families (Coleman and Wallinga, 1999). Maslow hierarchy of needs therefore provides a basis for the interpreting the impending relationship in the complexities regarding the interaction of levels found between school administrators, teachers, parents, community, and children in the development of  an operational school environment.

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The Move Away From Special Education Systems

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has played a significant role in the enhancement of the archaic least restrictive environment programs. This was initially a legislation matter in essence, hence substantially led to the development of segregated educational environments for the challenged personalities. This was unacceptable at a time when the world was heading towards the emancipation of the notion of equality in the educational settings. This lip service mentality needed to be critically changed in order to cement firm, operational, and futuristic educational goals (Jacobs and Kristonis, 2006).

The matter turned to be a matter of human rights abuse and the fundamental protection of basic human rights. In essence, these segregated programs had many flaws especially in teaching students the need for appropriate behavior and learning habits like their normal counterparts. This had an impending effect towards enhancing the students in the later years of their lives (Jacobs and Kristonis, 2006). There is was therefore a critical need for significant streamlining of the existing system to be done in order to provide continued and meaningful support to this group of students.

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs once a child an individual has achieved physiological needs, safety needs, in that order there is need to further develop a sense of belonging and love for a fruitful progression. The institution of a legislation that provides a form of segregation through the creation of fundamentally special needs which appear biased kills the spirit of belongingness by creating virtually different form of needs different from the mainstream population (Jacobs and Kristonis, 2006). This therefore kills the natural progression into the achievement of self-esteem and ultimately self-actualization evidenced by pursuance of inner talents and creativity component.

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 Naturally, a child demands to have a similar experience like his or her children counterparts despite the fact that they have different psychological needs. This implies that psychological need not be a determining factor of critical education programs as this severely impacts upon its functionality (Jacobs and Kristonis, 2006). Apart from the elimination from other students, it also segregates the child from gaining an important insight available from interaction with community elements. Such of a child grows up negatively and ends up adopting a negative notion towards established education programs.

The application of the Maslow hierarchy of needs led to the formulation of an all inclusive program that would potentially benefit all students through elimination of the concept of special education (Hetzel, 2008). Students with the so-called special needs now participate in normal school environments. This is very evident in many world-leading institutions. Teachers get the chance to develop these students equally, which substantially develops their confidence levels because of the emancipation of the feeling that they too can, an adaptation from the ‘I can’ cliché. These students are therefore in a position to give their contribution, views, and express their sentiments in a regular class environment.

This can only work through the provision of a consistent and accredited participatory model which has been tested elsewhere (Hetzel, 2008). The modern day system therefore allows these students to further develop and enhance their future employment prospects in the view of resultant chances. Apart from this, it also significantly enhances their job ability to participate in ongoing current affair programs in the same environments like their normal counterparts. Another important factor is that it leads to the development of a form acceptance from the surrounding community hence they are now in a position to participate significantly, acquire a sense of belonging, and ultimately form a stronger bond with the community.

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This form of reinforcement is thus critical in the existing education system as it gives the teacher a chance to focus in the achievement of critical educational targets as opposed to the provision of a comfortable environment for all (Woolfolk, 2006). Maslow hierarchy of needs therefore provides a paradigm shift towards the motivation of learning essentials. It provides a rationale for all students to benefit the education system’s provision. Teachers as the tools for enhancing an equitable education experience are able to formulate curriculums, which cut across varying student capabilities (Woolfolk, 2006). The special education provisions were entirely founded on out dated paradigms grounded in a belief that skills are entirely a prerequisite towards inclusion and ultimately integration. The new system therefore reverses this rationale and increases this category of student’s desire to advance towards mainstream establishments (Woolfolk, 2006).

The former system critically retarded the essence of career goals enhancement due to the biased approach. These students were therefore not destined towards joining equally competitive environments. The essence of education is to advance towards competitive environments without compromising standards (Woolfolk, 2006). By creating an equal environment the criterion for setting standards can substantially be predetermined. Teachers are also able to formulate better evaluation standards for the entire student fraternity. Consider an evaluation system in which different provisions are provided for two groups of students. This creates undue advantage to one group, which is entirely based upon the establishment of self-pity as a criterion. The inclusion of both groups of students into the regular classroom environment gives all the students equal measure and provides a supportive framework for evaluation (Woolfolk, 2006). Teachers are therefore able to test whether the systems implemented are serving the existing population to their level best. They are hence is a better position to re-evaluate the system in case there exists fundamental gaps, which may hamper the achievement of the desired efficiency. This provides an aesthetic component as seen in the mode of inclusion pursued in the text.

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Evaluating a special education system was fundamentally a demanding task due to the fact that the students were learning in a different context compared to their normal environment. The element of segregation therefore complicates the element of evaluation due to the inclusion of special components. In the new context, the teacher is in a position to develop a better rubric for the sole purpose of assessing the students in an incremental and continuous formula (Woolfolk, 2006). This provides the teacher with better feedback for the content covered for a particular without taking account the circumstantial aspects of the student capabilities. Technological enhancements have given teachers and especially disabled students advantage in supporting participatory approaches.  In as much as teachers, provide critical supportive mechanisms for the entire education system cannot be overestimated. The role played by the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in the realization of the impending gap in the previous system is very significant.

Increased Diversity and Freedom in the School Setting & Learning

There is an increased in the current school systems especially in settings where there is a significant existence of racial variation. The society of medieval America has been traditionally a racially divided land for a long time (Jacobs and Kristonis, 2006).). This was very evident in all settings inclusive of education settings in which students went to different school environments. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs there is emphasis being put at five significant stages. The ultimate development of diversity can strongly be represented by ultimate stage, which is self-actualization (Harrison, 2002). The contemporary society has reached a level where virtually every individual pursues his or her inner talent and creativity levels. This calls for an entirely enabling environment for everyone in order to sustain the desired level for self-actualization.

This has subsequently led to the emancipation of a diversity in critical institutional, organizational, and community settings. This has influenced positively especially in the education environment where there has been an increased observation of diversity within previously racially biased classroom settings. This strategy is very elemental and is in pursuance of self-actualization in the educational setting with regard to personal, institutional, and organizational objectives. The learning environment is critical in the emancipation of individual based self-actualization goals (Harrison, 2002). Teachers have a great role in the promotion of diversity in the learning environment. The model pursued in the current education system ensures the incorporation of teaching staff from varying and distinct racial backgrounds in order to dispel previous negativity and affiliations. Teachers are an important entry point for the beginning leaner towards the interpretation of the external world elements apart from the effect from the home environment.

Diversity in the education system is a strategy, which has been used to provide a more diverse content in the current school curriculum. Previous models in which certain topics were regarded as unspeakable have long been abandoned. Student increased freedom in choosing their majors and minor subjects going by self-evaluation and choice (Harrison, 2002). Teachers are hence in a position to provide relatively wide views on a controversial subject hence this gives the students a chance to do an informative brainstorming over important issues and concerns. Using diverse teaching approaches teachers are in a position to choose the most practical approach for a specific subject as opposed to using rigid and potentially limiting approaches (Harrison, 2002). This is entirely important as it empowers the teachers to carry out an initial assessment of the group of students and determine the content that will be covered going by familiarity of a subject. Therefore, the teacher poses significant influence and authority on the approach that will be used in class. This implies that he or she is able to do a proof analysis of the non-applicable approaches, teaching elements, expired techniques by suggesting other more applicable pedagogical strategies. This primarily essential in the domain of needs to know, deepen, and foster understanding on the critical elements of learning, which in the long run serves to stimulate esteem needs both for the learner and the teacher (Butcher, 2005).

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The teacher also gives the students freedom to conduct critical research in very important topics without due outside influence. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the development of self-esteem demands recognition of respect elements and substantial achievement of mastery as a component. This is very important especially in the enhancement of cognitive strategies in students (Harrison, 2002). Mastery of content is very critical component of the contemporary learning environment. This gives the teacher a chance to conduct an evaluation on the effectiveness of method in use in teaching a particular subject. Considering the occurrence that a method is found to be erroneous then the teacher stands a chance of invalidating that method or suggesting a fundamentally different approach (Jacobs and Kristonis, 2006). The aspect of cognitive elements focus more on the element of aesthetic needs provision for the child as it develops through its critical developmental aspects (Butcher, 2005).

The teacher in active pursuance of self-actualization is in a position to evaluate and develop the student’s skills and abilities. This has an impending effect on creativity levels seen in all the student groups (Owens, 1987). The incorporation of diversity therefore has a great effect on the motivation level of students due to the adoption of fundamentally diverse approaches. Students are given the chance to apply the diverse taught techniques in class and in addition implore some element of creativity leading to innovations. Diversity ensures a substantial inclusion of varied aspects critical in a subject through inclusive deliberation over the content with the potential beneficiaries of the particular subject (Jacobs and Kristonis, 2006).

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The modern day teacher works in a different environment in comparison to previous settings due to an increase in cultural and multi-lingual variations in the contemporary society (Certo, 1986). The teacher is hence in a position of preparing the student content taking due consideration of the culture and language elements, which are critical in most settings especially in settings where participants in the learning environment are of different age groups. Maslow’ hierarchy of needs has also led to the development of support systems for in terms of allowing different timings depending on a student’s time jurisdiction (Owens, 1987).). The teacher is hence in a position of developing adjustable timetables depending on student’s availability. The teacher may organize a topic’s content in such a manner that complex items are left for guidance through self motivate learning. This model gives the teacher substantial freedom in organizing course content and material (Harrison, 2002).


Maslow hierarchy of needs is instrumental in the enhancement of critical learning approaches and strategies used in modern day teaching environments. Through provision of diversity and freedom in school settings, paradigm shift from special education programs and family-school-community involvement in the education system. These strategies have delicately transformed the current education system leading to the emancipation of better approaches to be used by teachers in their different learning environments. These are important elements in the existing educational frameworks as they foster reliance and production of better performance elements, which is evident in majority of the existing academic institutional settings. It is therefore important to note that the theory still bears significant evidence in the current education system despite its medieval affiliations with the past and nonexistent era.



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