Figure 1: (left) Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (right) Bloom’s revised Taxonomy of learning.
Who among us (pun intended in relation to the popular video game) does not face days when productivity drops down? Students are anxious these days. Their productivity is at an all-time low. Yet they are asked to focus and learn, focus when all that is around them is pandemonium and chaos, learn where all that is around them is unstable. I’m not talking here about the tidiness of a home and the dedication of parents. I’m referring here to the instability of a country, an economy, and an educational system.
We have all seen that one boy screaming over a muted microphone for his teacher to hear him. We have all heard stories of children crying with disappointment because they were not able to reach out or to communicate with their classmates or teachers. In these times of uncertainty, it is much more important to Maslow. Bloom will follow along.
Maslow and Bloom are two remarkable psychologists who influenced education. Maslow set the theory of hierarchy of needs. The basic of those needs are physiological needs such as feeling secure and satiated, and it reaches all the way to self-actualization. Bloom on the other hand, arranged the learning process from the simple remembering of the information to the complex creation of new content. (Note that it was updated twice or more since then)
Who is responsible to Maslow? Is it just the teacher? Is it merely the parent? What about societies role? Should the family intervene? Keep in mind we are passing through lockdown where numbers of infected people are on the rise.
Screen time has increased many folds. Some for fun and some for work. Anxiety accompanies these long hours. We are barely dealing with our anxiety. Yet, we should as teachers and parents keep a careful eye on the anxieties of our kids which manifest and increase with online learning. It is not easy for a kid to be locked down for this long. It is not easy for them to be deprived of their friends and their outdoor activities. Surely, they are anxious. Surely, their focus span and concentration abilities are less than usual.
In the age of information, the emphasis is on the thinking and research skills, not on the bulk of information stuffed into students’ head. Let our priority be to focus on the basic information students need to process data. Through our teaching, we need to make more connections to real life situations to make retrieving information easier.
In the age of information where knowledge is just a click away, the challenge is not what to stuff into students’ heads. The challenge is in receiving them, accepting their differences, and empowering them with principles.
As a teacher, my role is to provide a safe harbor using consistency and empathy. We are here to listen. It is part of our role and belief system. Take some time to listen to your kids who may in turn refuse to share or find it difficult to connect. Give them and yourself some “us time”. We have to read their movements and hear their unsaid words. We should decode their needs; sometimes it is a cuddle, sometimes a hug, and sometimes simple acknowledgement of their presence. It could be as simple as listening to their silly childlike stories. Be aware of how your child is reaching out for you. Sometimes the shortest way to their heart is to tell them a story. Today’s students need to feel secure not taught.
Let us be their harbor. Let us be their family and fans. I believe in you daughter and son because I know what I have taught and planted within you. And I know God will protect you and us alongside you. We have done all that we can and God does not ignore the effort of those who do good.
“Maslow Before Bloom: Educators Need to Meet Learners’ Basic Needs In Time Of Pandemic – WISE”. WISE, 2020.
Berger, Tom. “How to Maslow Before Bloom, All Day Long.” Edutopia, 23,Sept. 2020.
Siddiqi, Javaid, and Dan Wuori. “Perspective | Learning In The Time Of COVID: Maslow Before Bloom”. Educationnc, 2020.
Jana Medakka: Jana has 15 years of experience in teaching science in Lebanon and in Qatar. Mrs. Jana is a master degree holder in teaching chemistry for secondary levels (Lebanese University). Before that, she got her BS in Biochemistry from the LIU. She integrates building skills with teaching science and is a big fan of integrating science with everyday activities. Mrs. Jana is the Science teacher for MY1, Chemistry and Biology for MY2 and MY3 and Chemistry for MY4. She is now proud of being part of Al-Hayat International School family.