Climbing Maslow’s Ladder: PART 2 – Episode 050

By Juan Campos

The Seal It With A Smile Podcast is where high performing Educators come to learn actionable brain building strategies. These brilliant minds understand that learning happens through relationships! This show will make you more responsive, more insightful, more congruent, and more effective so YOU can serve as a SUPERMODEL for your kids. Master teachers understand that higher performance in the classroom starts within themselves.



If you haven’t heart PART 1 of this two part series I suggest you STOP RIGHT NOW and go back and LISTEN!

In part 1 I discuss how Maslow did not intend for his Hierarchy of Needs (HON) to be displayed or showcased as a Pyramid. There is actual evidence that lends itself to believe that it was created by a consulting firm in order to provide a visually appealing way to package his idea!

However, if there was to be a visual, the closest visual would most likely be a ladder.

Why a ladder?

When one is on a ladder, you are on several rungs of the ladder at the same time, which visually represents more accurately the complexity of our needs. i.e. We will go without some basic physiological needs if we can receive or give love.  As a parent or a teacher we know this all to well! What wouldn’t a parent give up for their children? But this choice to prioritize a “higher” need above a “lower” need cannot be fully expressed in the Pyramid visual representation! The Pyramid diagram does not lend itself to this type of interpretation, as the Pyramid is well defined, static, and gives the impression that like the steps on a pyramid, one must climb one rung to reach another.

This is not true to the spirit of Maslow’s teachings, nor it is an accurate representation of the human condition!

Human beings are much more complicated than that; and different people prioritize different needs differently. Which is why the ladder visual is much more appealing

With this new understanding of how Maslow’s HON being represented as a Pyramid is not true to his original ideas, now it is really important to acknowledge the full range of our humanity, and now viewing the HON visually as a ladder is the closest to viewing a true representation of his ideas, one question remains; how?

How do we go about reaching the highest need we humans have (according to Maslow) as expressing our truest potential?

It boils down to our self awareness

In his famous book Emotional Intelligence Daniel Goldman brought to the forefront the idea that our “emotional intelligence” is actually MORE important than our intellectual abilities.

In fact, in Daniel Goldman says in his book of self-awareness:
Self-awareness—recognizing a feeling as it happens —is the keystone of emotional intelligence.
In education right now you hear over and over again how important it is for us to use social-emotional learning (SEL)! Its the buzzword of our current time! And what is Social Emotional Learning? It is the ability to model appropriate emotions in class, it is reflecting empathy back to our students, and it is the ability to create a safe environment for our students to learn and engage in.  However, without the fully developed self-awareness of the teacher in the classroom, it is almost impossible for this type of learning environment to be fostered!

If teachers walk into their classrooms, burdened by the weight of their personal and professional responsibilities, carrying with them their own personal issues, and then are expected to put on smiling brave faces for their students, and are expected to create engaging and meaningful experiences, build relationships, and somehow maintain positive professional relationships, and then go BACK to their own personal lives, and manage their own lives with empathy and kindness and a clear mind…. how can they do that, how can WE do that, without knowing who we are in every aspect of that situation?

Who are we? Who are you? Who are you when your having trouble with your spouse, when your kids do not listen to you, when your students are ignoring you, when you walk down a hall and pass another tea…