Monday, 16 May 2011

Maslow, Motivation, and Me.

Last year at Teachmeet North East, Darren Mead recommended I read a book by Geoff Petty, Evidence-based Teaching. I did and it is very good.

In the book there is a chapter on motivation and using Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs. I'd come across Maslow before, as I have a degree in Languages and Business Management, and I was surprised at myself that I'd never linked Maslow with teaching before.

Since reading this, I have made a conscious effort to try to motivate my students following Maslow's theory.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs looks like this:
So, how do I use this model to motivate students?

Physiological and Safety Needs.
These seem obvious but students will not be motivated in a cold classroom and if the surroundings are not conducive to learning, students will not be motivated to learn.

Love Needs.
To give students a sense of belonging I do different things. I learn the students' names and greet them as they enter the room. I (occasionally) smile. I give merits and stamps for effort and participation, and display students' work in my classroom.

Esteem Needs.
In order to improve students' self esteem I make sure that all students in my class are treated with respect. I give opportunities for students to learn independently and use self and peer assessments, too. Another way to do this is to use students' work as a model for others to learn.

Self Actualisation Needs.
This is all about personal growth and achieving potential. How do I do this? By providing opportunities for students to express themselves, problem solving activities, using evaluation and discussing ideas, devising activities which are fun. In order to get to this top level of Maslow's hierarchy, the conditions of each earlier level must be achieved. Students who feel they are not respected will not take an active part in lessons.

Personally, I find that this has helped my planning and classroom management and I would urge others to follow this even if they use it only as a kind of checklist.


Clare Seccombe said...

A very interesting post, Dom. I hadn't heard of this before, and what you say makes complete sense. Something to pursue further.


Steve Smith said...

So you don't just give them a telling off and make them shut up?

Steve Smith said...

But seriously... interesting. I kind of think, though, that this is implicit for a skilled teacher and that the further challenge is then the more technical, language learning theory stuff. What gets the language into their heads best?

For the novice teacher, the "crowd control" aspect is vital and I don't know whether this hierarchy provides all the answers. But then, what does?

Chiao said...

Hi, When reading the Maslow's hierarchical needs, I think of the "Affective filter hypothesis " from Krashen. Don't you think they are somehow similar? Students would learn more and pursue higher needs when they feel secured and satisfied with the current level and environment. It is a quite crucial factor we need to consider in the classroom management and lesson design.