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Maslow Before Bloom: Prioritizing Human Needs in Education

Updated: Apr 2, 2023

The field of education has witnessed various theories and frameworks that guide educators in enhancing students' learning experiences. Two prominent figures, Abraham Maslow and Benjamin Bloom, have made significant contributions in this regard. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and Bloom's Taxonomy are widely recognized and applied in educational settings.

This article aims to discuss both theories and emphasize the importance of addressing students' basic needs before focusing on cognitive development. For educators and researchers, understanding this priority can lead to more effective teaching and learning strategies.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Maslow, a psychologist, introduced the Hierarchy of Needs in his 1943 paper titled "A Theory of Human Motivation" (Maslow, 1943). The hierarchy represents a pyramid of human needs, with the most basic needs at the bottom and the highest level of self-actualization at the top. The levels are as follows:

  1. Physiological needs: food, water, warmth, and rest

  2. Safety needs: security and stability

  3. Love and belonging needs: relationships and social connections

  4. Esteem needs: respect, recognition, and self-esteem

  5. Self-actualization: achieving one's full potential

Maslow argued that people must satisfy their lower-level needs before progressing to higher levels. In the context of education, this means addressing students' basic physiological and safety needs before focusing on cognitive development.

Bloom's Taxonomy

Benjamin Bloom, an educational psychologist, developed Bloom's Taxonomy in 1956 to classify educational objectives and guide educators in designing curricula and assessment (Bloom et al., 1956). The taxonomy has been revised over time, with the current version comprising six cognitive levels:

  1. Remember: recalling facts and basic concepts

  2. Understand: explaining ideas and concepts

  3. Apply: using information in new situations

  4. Analyze: drawing connections among ideas

  5. Evaluate: justifying a decision or course of action

  6. Create: producing new or original work

Bloom's Taxonomy is a valuable framework for educators to develop higher-order thinking skills in students, but it assumes that students' basic needs are already met.

Maslow Before Bloom: The Rationale

Prioritizing Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs before Bloom's Taxonomy in educational settings is crucial for several reasons:

  1. Basic needs are foundational: A student struggling with hunger, lack of sleep, or an unsafe environment is less likely to concentrate on learning and cognitive development (Jensen, 2009).

  2. Social and emotional well-being: When students feel a sense of belonging and emotional stability, they are more likely to engage in the learning process and perform better academically (Eccles & Roeser, 2011).

  3. Holistic approach: By addressing students' basic needs, educators can create a supportive learning environment that fosters not only cognitive development but also personal growth and well-being.


In conclusion, Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and Bloom's Taxonomy are both essential frameworks for understanding and promoting student learning. However, prioritizing students' basic needs in accordance with Maslow's theory is critical to creating an environment conducive to cognitive development and higher-order thinking. By recognizing the importance of Maslow before Bloom, educators can adopt a more holistic approach to teaching and learning that addresses the whole person, not just their intellectual capabilities.


Bloom, B. S., Engelhart, M. D., Furst, E. J., Hill, W. H., & Krathwohl, D. R. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals. Handbook I: Cognitive domain. David McKay.

Eccles, J. S., & Roeser, R. W. (2011). Schools as developmental contexts during adolescence. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 21(1), 225-241.

Jensen, E. (2009). Teaching with poverty in mind: What being poor does to kids' brains and what schools can do about it. ASCD.

Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), 370-396.

This article is written with the help of ChatGPT4.

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