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I Should Have Paid Better Attention in EDPsych 101

By December 9, 2021January 2nd, 2022No Comments

A Message from MSA-CESS Interim President Henry Cram, Ed.D.

As educators, most of us sat through Ed.Psych 101. We listened to hours-long lectures on how, as humans, we had 20-minute attention spans. We studied research based on rats, never questioning the research’s application to our future students — who unlike rats have frontal lobes.

And then there was Maslow!

Unlike Bloom’s taxonomy or Gardner’s multiple intelligences, both of which had obvious application to teaching and learning, the relevance of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs escaped too many of us at the time.

But Abraham Maslow’s 1943 paper on human motivation proves indispensable as we reopen schools and make our post-pandemic plans.

Maslow would argue that our school communities must first feel physically safe before we can address rebuilding social and emotional connections. Only then, can we begin to address the challenge of lost learning.

There really is a hierarchy of needs. Who knew?

Wittingly or unwittingly, the U.S. Department of Education’s Return to School Roadmap reflects Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The roadmap separates best practices for reopening schools into three “Landmark” priorities. The first is built on providing a physically safe environment (social distancing, masks, vaccines and ventilation).

“As we resume in-person learning, working to ensure the health and safety of school communities must be the top priority,” the roadmap states.

With this basic need addressed, the roadmap then offers tools for creating a socially and emotionally safe environment. Following the isolation caused by school closings and on-line learning, students and teachers must reestablish a sense of belonging and reassume responsibility for learning.

It is only then that the roadmap turns its attention to the supports, remediation and accelerated learning that may be required to mitigate the lost learning that occurred during the pandemic.

During their biannual meeting this fall, the Middle States Commissioners discussed school reopenings and post-pandemic plans based on their own experiences and by sharing what has worked with their students and faculty as they reopened their schools and continue to deal with the effects of the pandemic.

No one mentioned, specifically, Maslow, Gardner or Bloom although most of their suggestions could be traced back to the three psychologists

As they say, (according to Independent Education, June 2020), “you must Maslow before you can Bloom.”

If I could only figure out what to do with Pavlov’s dog.

Happy holidays.

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