Abraham Maslow first wrote about the Heirachy of Needs in his paper ” A Theory of Human Motivation” in 1943. It was a psychological theory based on the need for good mental health, which was a revolutionary approach to looking at psychological conditions at the time. It is commonly and frequently used today to underline the importance of holistic well-being.
Here is how the heirachy of needs works. It is depicted as a pyramid. Our basic needs are depicted at the base of the pyramid. These must be met before achieving our ultimate goals of happiness and fulfilment. Envisage the following:
The bottom layer is Physiological Needs. This includes like air, water, food, rest, warmth.
On top of this is Security. This layer is safety, shelter, health and wellness, and stability (job/finances) These two layers form our basic needs.
The next layer is Belonging. It includes friendship, love, affection, family, and community.
The fourth layer is Esteem, which encompasses respect, recognition, appreciation, accomplishment and self-esteem. These two layers are Social Needs.
The final layer, the peak of the pyramid, is Self Actualisation. This is growing and developing as a person in order to achieve individual potential.
This heirachy of needs is relevant to us as Unschoolers because it focuses on the importance of caring for our children’s welfare. It is possibly not without variation or individual application but it does draw attention to the complexities of human needs and their interplay and contribution to our learning potential. It highlights the need to support the growth of our children as whole beings and not just academically.