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Psychology in Education

Maslow, who was born April 1, 1908 in New York, was an American psychologist and philosopher best known for his self-actualization theory of psychology, which argued that the main aim of psychotherapy should be the integration of the self.

The needs described in Maslow’s theory appear to be universal. However, research shows that the order in which these needs are met has little impact on people’s satisfaction with life. Findings suggest that Maslow’s theory is largely correct. 

His theory suggested that people have a number of basic needs that must be met before people move up the hierarchy to pursue more social, emotional, and self-actualizing needs.

This is Maslow’s hierarchy of need:

The idea behind it is that your ‘higher’ needs cannot be met if your ‘lower’ needs have not been met. Maslow argued that the failure to have needs met at various stages of the hierarchy could lead to illness, particularly mental health issues. Individuals whose physiological needs are not met can become extremely ill. But, the problem is throughout 2020 (and 2021) the pandemic has been wreaking havoc on so many of our own critical LOWER needs.

  • Unemployment and economic damage threaten the physiological needs of millions of people. Even if you are so fortunate as to have a place to live and food to eat – do not underestimate that the threat to you and your needs are still the same to you. 
  • How can your need for safety and security be met in the middle of a global pandemic which is a direct threat to your health? How can you feel secure in the face of political turmoil and in a system of injustice or even just the general uncertainty of will school be safe for my child? 
  • How can your need for belonging be met in isolation, in a time where we are separating ourselves, avoiding community, unable to safely connect? Humans are social creatures and we need people with us.
  • How can you build esteem when doubt and concern and uncertainty currently surrounds us? 
  • At this rate reaching the top of the hierarchy and achieving self actualization feels like a long way off!

We are all trying to function as NORMAL in a world that is anything but!

I think the St Peter’s Preparatory School community should just be aware of Maslow’s hierarchy of need as a psychological and philosophical theory. It could help us to understand why we sometimes feel the way we do at the moment. 

Rest assured staff here at St Peter’s Preparatory School are rolling out school days which are packed full with focus on children’s psychological needs, their sense of safety and security, with plenty of social time with friends. Trying to build up their self esteem wherever and whenever we can, so they can self actualise their full potential. 

My advice for what it is worth? 

Show yourself compassion. You are trying to build a pyramid on a shaky foundation and even if you can’t see it, you are doing just beautifully. 

Mrs Lucy Ball
Deputy Head, Teaching and Learning