Maslow over Bloom

Overfunctioners, people ready to lean in, grit boosters, and all others who demand that everyone around them rise to the occasion–


Many of your students are here, and many soon will be as illness spreads. You might be here already, or you might end up here:

Above, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. From the base: physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem, and, at the top, self-actualization. By J. Finkelstein – I created this work using Inkscape., CC BY-SA 3.0,

Not so much here:

Above, Bloom’s taxonomy, which organizes our learning: at the base: remember, then understand, apply, analyze, and evaluate. Create appears at the top. By Nicoguaro – Own work, CC BY 4.0,

Now, for many students, school helps provide the needs that Maslow articulates, from school lunches to a shelter during the day to friendship. But we, especially in higher ed, tend to believe that our purpose is at the uppermost level of self-actualization. Yes, students derive respect from others when they earn a good GPA or make otherwise notable achievements in their schooling, but we say that our purpose (though we can debate this) is self-actualization, not providing physiological needs.

But right now, many of your students are attending to needs (theirs and others) that are much lower on Maslow’s hierarchy. Teach with compassion and flexibility so that they can attend to them.

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