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Overview of Abraham Maslows Theories on Education

In order to be a successful early childhood professional, one must continue to increase their knowledge of past and current education theories. By keeping one’s mind open to different theories, a successful teacher can assess each old theory and use them to continue to rebuild her curriculum and ideas on education. Among great men and woman like, Jean Piaget, Abraham Maslow, Lev Vygotsky and Howard Gardner, we can learn and broaden our wisdom and knowledge of why and how kids learn the way they do. Today, I will present a brief biography of Abraham Maslow, then I will describe his self-actualization theory, and last I will apply Maslow’s theory to my own educational philosophy.

Abraham Maslow was an American psychologist, best known as the father of humanistic psychology. Maslow was the eldest of seven children. He was raised in a Jewish family in a non-Jewish community. Moreover, his childhood was extremely isolated and unhappy. Being shunned from friends and the community, Maslow found solitaire in the library and in books. He studied different theories and researched Freud. He felt that Freud had studied what makes one sick, and he longed to discover what resulted in positive mental health. Among his research and studies, Maslow used his desire to study the healthy and put it to practice. Maslow studied some of the greatest minds and influences in history, such as Albert Einstein and Eleanor Roosevelt. As a result of his studies and research, Maslow created the hierarchy of human needs.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs stated that basic needs must be met before one could be truly satisfied. He felt when children’s needs were met they could find true happiness. This

hierarchy of needs consisted of life essentials, safety and security, belonging and love, achievement and prestige, aesthetic needs, and self actualization. These needs are often referred

in a pyramid form. Each level must be met in order to achieve one’s full potential. According to Early Childhood Education Today “Maslow identified self-Actualization or self-fulfillment as the highest human need. However, Maslow said that children and adults don’t achieve self-actualization until other basic needs…..are satisfied” (Boyd & Bee Pg. 124). For example, recent studies on the brain prove that a child who is hungry or stressed cannot learn. The studies go on to show that a child who feels threatened in anyway produces chemicals that actually stop the learning process. Conditions for learning must be put in place in order for a child to properly develop in a learning environment. When basic needs are not met, the brain goes into survival mode thus reducing the brain’s capacity to understand and learn. (The Library Lady) Furthermore, the brain studies prove that in order to achieve the highest level of potential that first these basic needs must be met. We also see in the central them of the book “Nutrition and the Brain”, that poor nutrition manipulates emotional and mental behavior in children. Studies have shown time and time again that these basic needs Maslow suggests are necessary to reach ones full potential and are incredibly important. Each one works together to establish a great framework to implement in the classroom.

In correlation with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, I feel that respectful, caring bonds with my students and families are a vital foundation for a wonderful year. Early childhood is an exciting time in a child’s life. A young child’s home is increasing outside home to take in new experiences. I believe this new exciting entry into a child’s formal education is a beginning of a magical journey. The heart of my educational philosophy is not only to love my students but to teach them a love for learning.

Furthermore, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is the center stone of my philosophy on education. I believe that in order to teach a child, it starts first with the environment you provide.

By providing an environment that consists of the entire basic needs one requires, to achieve full potential you are enriching your students’ opportunities to learn. First and foremost, I feel that the need to create a learning environment is the first step to the learning process. By building and creating learning environments to satisfy the basic needs of the children, they are left to open there minds and reach their fullest potential. Moreover, I feel by providing a safe atmosphere conductive to learning, my students will be encouraged to be confident, creative, and independent. Above all, by basing the structure of my program on Abraham Maslow’s theory, I will promote the development of the whole child, academically, physically, and emotionally.

In conclusion, the lessons learned from Abraham Maslow’s research and theories provide the foundation for my own educational philosophy. Kindergarten is a thrilling fun filled journey, that I am so blessed to be a part of. It is this time that a child’s world is expanding outside their everyday norm to embrace school. By using the lessons taught by Maslow, I will be sure to meet all of my student’s needs thus creating self-actualization. The authors in Who am I in the lives of children, reminds us that children who feel isolated and alone, tired, or worried have difficulty learning (Feeney, S., Moravcik, E., Nolte, S., & Chritensen, D., 2010). With that being said, I will never forget the lessons learned from a shunned Jewish little boy named Abraham Maslow. His life, thoughts, and research will forever provide not only the framework of my educational philosophy, but will provide many other educators a place to reflect and put his theories into practice in their own classrooms.

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