Educational Psychology: What are the various varied aspects of Humanistic Approaches, the Hierarchy of Needs and in their relation to motivating students in the teaching process?



7a iv). Discuss the various aspects of Humanistic Approaches

  • Humanistic Approaches

The proponents of the humanistic approaches to motivation are Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers. The humanistic perspective is referred to as the “Third force” psychology because it developed in the 1940s as a reaction against two dominant forces at the time. The first force was Freudian psychoanalysis while the Second was Watson’s behaviorism. The Humanistic perspective emphasized intrinsic sources of motivation. They held the view that every human being has an inherent desire to self-actualize. This desire motivates the person to continually want to seek self-actualization. According to Abraham Maslow students cannot develop in the direction of self-actualization unless their needs are met. He developed the hierarchy of needs in order to illustrate the levels of motivation. We shall examine this hierarchy with a view to helping the teacher to understand the conditions that must be met before we can ask students to be motivated to learn.


Abraham Maslow


Maslow Hierarchy Of Needs

Maslow, (1970) suggests that humans have a hierarchy of needs ranging from lower level needs to higher level needs. The lower level needs are survival and safety related. They consist: the primary needs, the basic biological needs like the need for food, water, temperature regulation and pain avoidance. Safety needs refer to the person’s desire to feel secure in non-threatening physical and social environments. The higher level needs are those for intellectual achievement and self-actualization. Self-actualization is Maslow’s term to refer to Self-fulfillment or realization of personal potential.

  • Physiological needs

At the base of the hierarchy are physiological needs. They constitute the need for food water, temperature regulation, and pain avoidance. These needs are basic for the survival of the organism and they must be met first before the learner can be motivated to learn. A student who is hungry or in pain or even one who needs to go to the toilet has to satisfy the need first because these needs are proponent or pressuring. What can the school do in order to help meet this need? The school could ensure

    • That there is a lunch program
    • There is clean water to drink and
    • There are usable toilets for students.

Students should never be punished by being deprived off food neither should they be denied time to use the toilet facilities.

  • Safety

The second level of the hierarchy consists of safety needs. These are needs to do with security of the environment. These are natural elements like winds, floods, lightening. These are needs to do with the security of environment. They can be met when school provide firm safe buildings that will not be blown away by the wind or be washed away by floods. The school buildings should be fortified against natural elements like lightening. In lightening prone areas lightening- arrestors should be installed. In flood prone areas proper drainage should be put in place. What are other sources of insecurity? Insecurity can also be caused by, the human factors like politically motivated aggression found in bandit prone areas or, areas hit by tribal clashes. These should be eliminated in order to give students secure environments in which to learn. Insecurity can also exist in the form of bullying where new comers are physically or psychologically harassed. These incidents should be minimized if not completely eliminated. Teachers too can pose insecurity to learners if they use physically and psychologically threatening methods in their discharge of duty. Whatever the source of insecurity is it makes the students fearful and they spend a lot of their time and energy dwelling on their fears rather on learning tasks.

  • Belongingness

The third level of need is the need for belongingness. This is the need to be loved by significant other people and to be accepted by them. For the student, significant other people are; parents, siblings, peers and teachers. Every person has the desire to feel accepted and if any threat to love is perceived the person begins to malfunction psychologically. How can the teacher help learners meet the needs for love belongingness? The teacher should help learners

    • To make and keep friends by training them in social skills when and where necessary. The teacher should also try to bond with the students by developing a loving relationship with them.
    • By a loving relationship we mean parental not romantic love.
    • The teacher should also show concern and sensitivity to the needs and feelings of the learner and communicate the attitude of care. Students respond to this by extending love and sensitivity towards the teacher in reciprocation. This is an aspect that can go very far in instilling discipline and at the same time motivating learning. We know that there are prevailing circumstances that make it difficult for the teacher to bond with students namely;
    • Work overload,
    • Overwhelming teacher student ratio among other professional challenges. However the teacher should make effort to communicate care and sensitivity to his pupils at every opportunity.
  • Self Esteem

Self-Esteem is also referred to, as prestige need. It underlies the general competitiveness. The need to be outstanding in various aspects of school life. Some students will excel in

    • academic performance while
    • others will shine in field events.
    • There are those who hold positions of prestige and are envied because of their leadership qualities
    • Some students shine because of their outstanding beauty and strength. How do teachers help learners meet these needs? In helping pupils fulfill this need, the teachers should open their eyes to the school stars and give them an opportunity to shine by creating conditions that allow healthy competitiveness. The school should develop incentives to encourage competitiveness. Some schools do this by promising field trips or valued awards to the students or group of students who show excellence in academic work, games and sports in school, beauty contests, leadership and in any other areas of excellence. The main idea here is to put the lamp on the housetop where all can see it and not cover it up with a bucket. So wherever we are, we should let the school stars shine.
  • Self-actualization

At the top of the hierarchy is the need for self-actualization. This is the need to develop ones highest human capacity to think and feel and understand the world. In Maslow’s view, people’s failure to satisfy “lower” needs leave the individual unable to focus on “higher” level needs. If students; are hungry, insecure and unloved, they won’t worry about academic success. Although this need looks like it’s beyond the attainment of learners, I believe there are ways in which they can be assisted to systematically self- actualize. Learners can be helped to become the best they are capable of becoming, release their potential to optimum levels if the school creates the right conditions consciously and systematically. Learners physiological, safety, affiliate and esteem needs should be planned for and delivered. Then there should be deliberate effort to help learners improve in many areas of school life namely,

    • Knowledge,
    • The need for beauty and.
    • The need to perform at peak in all school endeavors.
    • As far as knowledge is concerned learners can be trained to study and value good performance.
    • In the pursuance of beauty or aesthetics learners can be trained to value cleanliness, neatness not only personal but environmental as well. They can be trained to appreciate good handwriting and to strive towards perfection in these things. These are not difficult things to do as long as the teacher has the will and the necessary commitment towards learners.




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