image - Maslow.jpg "I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail."


The Oxford Dictionary of American-English defines Humanism as: "an outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. Humanist beliefs stress the potential value and goodness of human beings, emphasize common human needs, and seek solely rational ways of solving human problems."


In the realm of education and learning, the humanistic approach is that learning is and should be that which fulfills one's potential. "A primary purpose of humanism could be described as the development of self-actualized, autonomous people. In humanism, learning is student centered and personalized, and the educator’s role is that of a facilitator."

ABRAHAM MASLOW (April 1, 1908 - June 8, 1970)

Dr. Abraham Maslow was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York by Russian Jewish immigrants. His undergraduate studies were at City College of New York and at Cornell. His graduate study, both the Masters and the PhD Doctoral, were at the University of Wisconsin. In 1967, the American Humanist Association named Maslow the Humanist of the Year. He died in Menlo Park, CA on June 8, 1970 of heart attack.


Dr Maslow proposed the theory of Hierarchy of Needs in his paper "A Theory of Human Motivation". The Hierarchy of Needs includes five motivational needs, often depicted as hierachical levels within a pyramid. This five stage model can be divided into basic (or deficiency) needs (e.g. physiological, safety, love, and esteem) and growth needs (self-actualization). One must satisfy lower level basic needs before progressing on to meet higher level growth needs. Once these needs have been reasonably satisfied, one may be able to reach the highest level called self-actualization.

Every person is capable and has the desire to move up the hierarchy toward a level of self-actualization. Unfortunately, progress is often disrupted by failure to meet lower level needs. Life experiences including divorce and loss of job may cause an individual to fluctuate between levels of he hierarchy.
Maslow noted only one in a hundred people become fully self-actualized because our society rewards motivation primarily based on esteem, love and other social needs.
  1. Biological and Physiological needs - air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep.
  2. Safety needs - protection from elements, security, order, law, limits, stability, freedom from fear.
  3. Social Needs - belongingness, affection and love, - from work group, family, friends, romantic relationships.
  4. Esteem needs - achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, self-respect, respect from others.
  5. Self-Actualization needs - realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.

Self-actualizing people show a high degree of
  • Awareness, perception, and realistic orientation.
  • Acceptance of self, others, and the natural world.
  • Spontaneity, naturalness, and authenticity.
  • Autonomy, self-directedness, and resistance to conformity and are largely free of the need to impress others or to be liked by everyone.
  • Intrinsic motivation, and especially meta-motivations (e.g., fulfillment of life's mission or purpose, self-knowledge, growth toward unity and synergy).
  • Desire for unity, oneness, integration, and increased identification with humanity.
  • Devotion to a cause, a task, or a calling and view work and play as one.
  • Identification with universal values (beauty, justice, truth) that are important to well-being.
  • Capability for rich emotional reaction and freshness of appreciation.
  • Frequency of peak experiences (moments of highest happiness or fulfillment) and mystic, natural, or cosmic experiences.
  • Capability for deep empathy and profound relationships with others, and a great ability to love and to enjoy sexuality.
  • Need for privacy on occasion for periods of intense concentration.
  • Creative, less constricted thought processes.
  • Humor that is not hostile.
  • Democratic character structure.
  • Wondering about life: treating each day as new.

image - maslow hierarchy of needs.jpg

Major works:
  1. A Theory of Human Motivation (originally published in Psychological Review, 1943, Vol. 50 #4, pp. 370–396).
  2. Motivation and Personality (1st edition: 1954, 2nd edition: 1970, 3rd edition 1987)
  3. Religions, Values and Peak-experiences, Columbus, Ohio: Ohio State University Press, 1964.
  4. Eupsychian Management, 1965; republished as Maslow on Management, 1998
  5. The Psychology of Science: A Reconnaissance, New York: Harper & Row, 1966; Chapel Hill: Maurice Bassett, 2002.
  6. Toward a Psychology of Being, (1st edition, 1962; 2nd edition, 1968)
  7. The Farther Reaches of Human Nature, 1971

image - Maslow's writings.jpg