In the 1940s, proponents of humanistic psychology such as Carl Rogers argued that neither of the dominant schools of psychology, behavioral or Freudian, adequately explained why people act they do. Humanistic as interpretations of motivation emphasize such intrinsic sources of motivation as a person’s needs for “self-actualisation” the inborn “actualizing tendency” or the need for “self-determination”. So from the humanistic perspective, to motivate means to encourage peoples’ inner resources their sense of competence, self-esteem, autonomy, and self-actualisation. Maslow’s theory is a very influential humanistic explanation of motivation.

Maslow’s Hierarchy. Abraham Maslow (1970) suggested that humans have a hierarchy of needs ranging from lower-level needs for survival and safety to higher-level needs for intellectual achievement and finally self- actualization. Self-actualization is Maslow’s term for self- fulfillment, the realization of personal potential. Each of the lower needs must be met before the next higher need can be addressed.

Maslow (1968) called the four lower-level needs-for survival, then safety, followed by belonging, and then self- esteem deficiency needs. When these needs are satisfied, the motivation for fulfilling them decreases. He labeled the three higher-level needs intellectual achievement, then aesthetic appreciation, and finally self-actualization being needs. When they are met, a person’s motivation does not cease; instead, it increases to seek further fulfillment. Unlike the deficiency needs, these being needs can never be completely filled. For example, the more successful you are in your efforts to develop as a teacher, the harder you are likely to strive for even greater improvement.

Maslow’s theory has been criticized for the very obvious reason that people do not always appear to behave as the theory would predict. Most of us move back and forth among different types of needs and may even be motivated by many different needs at the same time. Some people deny themselves safety or friendship in order to achieve knowledge, understanding, or greater self-esteem.

Criticisms aside, Maslow’s theory does give us a way of looking at the whole student, whose physical, emotional, and intellectual needs are all interrelated. A child whose feelings of safety and sense of belonging are threatened by divorce may have little interest in learning to divide fractions. If a school is a fearful, unpredictable place where neither teachers nor students know where they stand, they are likely to be more concerned with security and less with learning or teaching. Belonging to a social group and maintaining self- esteem within that group, for example, are important to students. If doing what the teacher says conflicts with group rules, students may choose to ignore the teacher’s wishes or even defy the teacher.

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