Teachwell | Maslow’s Hierarchy – Critique Part One
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Maslow's Hierarchy - Critique Part One


I’ve been meditating on this all day. What is my problem with excuses? Why not just let a child off the hook if they have problems? Give them a break? Just understand that it is different for them because their home life is horrible and they just want to be safe and loved? If they aren’t fed and clothed then how can they be expected to behave? If they are witnessing abuse at home then how can we expect them to follow class rules?


It seems the main justification each time is that the child behaves poorly as a result of problems at home then they need to be able to express those negative emotions where they feel safe and we should understand that. We should also accept that the reasons for this and the fact that the child’s behaviour is unlikely to change while they are in the environment they are in. Instead, as teachers, we must look at our behaviour and see how we trigger the child’s emotions and act accordingly – the walking on egg shells approach.


Of course, the ‘there are excuses’ school are all about the emotion. Emotions before morality and spirituality is enshrined into Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.


This diagram that is widely used is not his visual representation of his ideas. It attaches weighting to the different needs that he doesn’t.


By FireflySixtySeven [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


The fact is that this is an equally valid visual representation of his ideas:




As is this:




As is this:



And this:



The red of the physiological does a great job of highlighting it’s importance – danger – needs attention, far more than the cool blue at the top. So what does it look like reversed?





All these diagrams demonstrate how the organisation and presentation of ideas affect how we interpret them. The diagram directly above is nothing like the commonly used one, yet it is not wrong!!!


It is not Maslow I have the issue with here but those that have manipulated the visualisation of his ideas. We can all play that game so maybe we need to look at his ideas more honestly, in light of what he says, rather than a simplified diagram.

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