This essay considers Maslow's hierarchy of needs in connection with an elementary school teacher in New Jersey assessing whether individuals in the teacher's work setting possess different attributes or needs that would change how they are motivated.
The starting point for this is to understand Arthur Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Maslow lists five categories of needs in order of their assumed priority:.
1. physical (biological) needs - air, water, food and the like.
2. safety needs - assurance of survival and of continuing satisfaction of basic needs.
3. affection or belongingness needs.
4. esteem needs - by self and others.
5. self-actualization or self-development needs.
Maslow did not say that these are all the needs we all have, but that all people potentially have all these needs. He regarded this hierarchy as instinctual and universal. Thus "higher" needs may not become activated unless the "lower" ones have been reasonably well met previously. That is, human needs arrange themselves in hierarchies of prepotency. The strength of motivation to move onto the next level in the hierarchy of needs will, in most cases, be according to how much the preceding category has been satisfied.
The individuals in the teacher's work setting for which she would require to provide motivational guidance are the students in the class. The main purpose for which the teacher will want to motivate the students in her class is toward the attainment of Maslow's highest category in the hierarchy of needs: self-actualization. They are there to learn, gain knowledge, and as they do so, satisfy self-development needs.
However, the teacher cannot simply focus on this category to the exclusion of those preceding it. This is because each individual student brings to the classroom different histories of fulfillment of lower categories. Added to this, as Maslow observed, different individuals require different quantities of fulfillment of a particular preceding category to be sufficiently motivated to move onto the next.