Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) devised a useful though controversial hierarchy of needs required to satisfy human potential. These needs proceed from low-level physiological needs such as hunger, thirst, sex, and comfort, through such other needs as safety, love, and esteem, finally reaching the highest level, self-actualization. According to Maslow, human beings progress sequentially through this hierarchy as they develop. Each category of needs proceeds from the preceding category, and no category is omitted as the human develops, although the final and highest category, self-actualization, which includes curiosity, creative living, and fulfilling work, is not necessarily attained or attainable by all humans.
The humanists stipulate that people's primary motives are those that lead toward self-actualization, those that capitalize on the unique potential of each individual. In educational terms, this means that for education to be effective, it must emphasize exploration and discovery over memorization and the rote learning of a set body of material. It must also be highly individualized, although this does not imply a one-on-one relationship between students and their teachers. Rather than acting as fonts of knowledge, teachers become facilitators of learning, directing their students individually to achieve the actualization of the personal goals that best suit them.
Carl Rogers (1902-1987) traced much psychopathology to conflicts between people's inherent understanding of what they require to move toward self-actualization and society's expectations, which may run counter to individual needs. In other words, as many people develop and pass through the educational system, they may be encouraged or required to adopt goals that are opposed to those that are most realistic for them. Humanistic views of human development run counter to the views of most of the psychodynamic and behaviorist psychologists concerned with learning theory and motivation as it relates to such theory.
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