Maslow Before Bloom: More Relevant Than Ever.

Many educators may have heard the expression: Maslow before Bloom, if you’re not embodied in educational lingo, the point may not be easy to convey – but it is an important one that can’t be forgotten – particularly In the midst of a pandemic.

There has never been more importance for fellow educators to meet the basic needs and desires of students.

Maslow before Bloom. Lets explore this:

Renowned American Psychologist, Abraham Maslow is best known for his hierarchy of needs theory. This hierarchy theory explores and identifies the instinctual human psychological needs which must be fulfilled in order to achieve our full potential, through a five tier pyramid shaped model, we begin with essential needs (such as food, water and shelter), followed by safety and security, love, esteem (feeling of accomplishment) and self-actualisation.

Meanwhile, peer psychologist Benjamin Bloom recognised a similar model – best known in classroom lesson plans as “Bloom’s Taxonomy” – which places an structured hierarchical order of learning outcomes from most basic outcomes, to the students ability to analyse, evaluate and establish new knowledge-based ideals.

While schools are essentially dormant, it is essentially that students still feel a sense of belonging and connection with not only their peers but also their teachers.

As an educator, you may recently have seen on Twitter others using the hashtag #MaslowBeforeBloom which refers to the students basic needs which must be met before a student can make progress based on the Bloom Taxonomy (remembering, understanding, applying, analysing, evaluating and creating knowledge)

So what does Maslow before Bloom actually mean?

It’s that complex, in-depth and technical learning will not happen in our classrooms unless students have their most fundamental needs met. Without regular nourishment, encouragement and shelter (usually received by peers), students are simply less likely to engage deeply within the learning environment. The same can be said in environments lacking security, such as what we’re all experiencing given the current Covid-19 – a challenge given we don’t have a crystal ball to see into the future beyond the pandemic.

Given the current times, it really is difficult to create a ‘physiologically safe’ environment in which students feel nurtured and able to take risks and challenge the status-quo. Additionally, the physical security and safety of the learning environment and classroom has changed and is under the spotlight given the requirements to wear a mask, keep their distance and continue learning from home without much certainty.

Regardless of the teaching style, we’re living in particularly daunting times. It’s crucial for teachers and educators to create safe and secure learning environments, along with genuinely caring relationships.

When it comes to positive long-term educational outcomes, we must place Maslow before Bloom.


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