Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Justin Bieber and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

I found the following article on a #jedchat conversation on twitter: Justin Bieber and the principal: The real story by Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post.  

While this article is not about tefilla, I think it is inspirational story for educators and serves as a necessary reminder about how we cannot discuss teaching to higher level cognitive abilities - the pursuit of self-actualization - without treating the basic needs of our students.  There are many distractions in and around the classroom, and these especially crowd the arena of tefilla.  Below is a diagram of Maslow's theory: 

At first glance, tefilla seems to be a higher order activity -at the top of the pyramid.  But thinking through this theory more it is clear to me that many people daven solely for their physiological needs, or for safety and for all the different components categorized.  I think that davening can be appropriate for each of these levels but it is immensely challenge to teach and practice tefilla with students at various stages of this paradigm.

For me,  I think in terms of tefilla of the reflective ability to reach my personal potential and missions of the Jewish tradition.  This is very much the vision of self-actualization.  However, modeling this for students who are cognitively, emotionally, or socially at a different place can be a recipe for disaster.  

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