Psychologist Abraham Maslow identiﬁ ed seven categories of basic needs common to all people. Maslow represented these needs as a hierarchy in the shape of a pyramid. A hierarchy is an arrangement that ranks people or concepts from lowest to highest. According to Maslow, individuals must meet the needs at the lower levels of the pyramid before they can successfully be motivated to tackle the next levels. The lowest four levels represent deﬁ ciency needs, and the upper three levels represent growth needs.
Notice that the physiological needs are the foundation of the pyramid. Why do you suppose these needs occupy this position? Maslow suggested that the ﬁ rst and most basic need people have is the need for survival: their physiological requirements for food, water, and shelter. People must have food to eat, water to drink, and a place to call home before they can think about anything else. If any of these physiological necessities is missing, people are motivated above all else to meet the missing need. Have you ever had a hard time paying attention to what the professor is saying when you are hungry? Some of your future students may not have had breakfast—or even dinner the night before. Free and reduced breakfast and lunch programs have been implemented in schools to help students meet some of their physiological needs.
Safety and Security Needs
After their physiological needs have been satisﬁed, people can work to meet their needs for safety and security. (But the physiological needs must be met ﬁrst. Safety is the feeling people get when they know no harm will befall them, physically, mentally, or emotionally; security is the feeling people get when their fears and anxieties are low. How does this relate to students in school? What threats to their physical, mental, or emotional security might students perceive in school?
Love and Belongingness Needs
After the physiological needs and the needs for survival and for safety and security have been met, an individual can be motivated to meet the needs represented at higher levels of the pyramid. The third level of the pyramid are needs associated with love and belonging. These needs are met through satisfactory relationships—relationships with family members, friends, peers, classmates, teachers, and other people with whom individuals interact. Satisfactory relationships imply acceptance by others. Having satisﬁed their physiological and security needs, people can venture out and seek relationships from which their need for love and belonging can be met.
Self-Worth and Self-Esteem Needs
Once individuals have satisfactorily met their need for love and belonging, they can begin to develop positive feelings of self-worth and self-esteem, and act to foster pride in their work and in themselves as people. Before they can work toward self-esteem, however, they must feel safe, secure, and part of a group such as a class in school. In a study by Yamamoto et al. (1996), more than 1,700 children in grades 2 through 9 reported that the most stressful events in their lives were those that threatened their security and those that threatened to embarrass them, thereby challenging their developing sense of love and belonging. As a teacher, you need to ﬁnd ways you can help students in your classes develop positive feelings about themselves and thus begin to satisfy their needs for self-worth and self-esteem.