Attending to physical & emotional needs of students to enable learning…

Abraham Maslow, a familiar name in motivational psychology, proposed that humans have a hierarchy of needs. Only when needs at the base of the pyramid are met, are we motivated to fulfill higher needs. In simple terms, if a child is hungry, anxious or unloved, he will not be motivated to learn at school. But if those needs are met, then he will in fact be intrinsically motivated to achieve competence at school. This point is fairly well borne out by examples in our own experiences. When a child goes through an emotionally shaky patch (whether family or peer related), school performance suffers immediately. A teacher who wants learning to happen has no alternative but to involve themselves with their student’s emotional life. At times, in schools with economically weaker children, teachers and schools spend time, energy, and sometimes their own money, on alleviating their students’ physical needs, recognizing the hierarchy of needs.

Unfortunately, many children in India are not in a position to have even the physical needs met, let alone their emotional needs. On the other hand, among children who enjoy physical and emotional security, motivation to learn can still be a problem for some.

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