Maslow, Abraham (1908–70): International Education Explained

Abraham Maslow, a renowned psychologist, is a significant figure in the realm of international education. Born in 1908 and passing away in 1970, Maslow’s theories and ideas have had a profound influence on how education is approached and understood globally. This article delves deep into Maslow’s life, his theories, and their impact on international education.

Understanding Maslow’s contributions requires a comprehensive look at his life, his theories, especially his Hierarchy of Needs, and how these theories have shaped international education. This article aims to provide an in-depth exploration of these aspects, offering a detailed understanding of Maslow’s role in international education.

Biography of Abraham Maslow

Abraham Maslow was born in New York City to Jewish immigrants from Russia. His parents were uneducated, but they had a strong desire for their children to succeed in the new world. Maslow was the eldest of seven children, and he often felt the pressure of his parents’ expectations.

Despite the hardships, Maslow excelled academically. He first studied law at the City College of New York but soon transferred to the University of Wisconsin. There, he developed an interest in psychology and earned his BA, MA, and PhD in the field. His early work focused on human sexuality, but he soon moved towards studying human potential and self-actualization.

Professional Life and Contributions

After completing his education, Maslow returned to New York and started teaching at Brooklyn College. His exposure to the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust deeply affected him, leading him to question the nature of human beings and what motivates their actions.

These experiences and reflections led Maslow to develop his groundbreaking theory, the Hierarchy of Needs. He published his theory in 1943, and it has since become one of the most well-known theories in psychology. Maslow continued to refine and expand his theory throughout his career.

Understanding Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a motivational theory in psychology. It comprises five levels of needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid. The five levels are physiological needs, safety needs, love and belonging needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization needs.

The theory suggests that to reach the highest level of self-actualization, individuals must first satisfy the lower level needs. Each level of needs is dependent on the previous one, creating a hierarchy that individuals move through as they grow and develop.

Implications of the Hierarchy of Needs

The Hierarchy of Needs has significant implications for understanding human motivation and behaviour. It suggests that individuals are motivated by their unmet needs. Once a particular need is satisfied, it no longer motivates the individual, and they move on to the next level of needs.

This understanding of human motivation has been applied in various fields, including business, healthcare, and education. In education, particularly, Maslow’s theory has been used to understand students’ needs and how to create an environment that fosters learning and development.

Maslow’s Impact on International Education

Maslow’s theories have had a profound impact on international education. His understanding of human needs and motivation has helped educators worldwide to create learning environments that cater to students’ needs and foster their growth and development.

International education, with its focus on fostering global citizenship and intercultural understanding, aligns well with Maslow’s emphasis on self-actualization. By understanding and addressing students’ needs, educators can help students reach their full potential and become responsible global citizens.

Application of Maslow’s Theories in International Education

Maslow’s theories are applied in international education in various ways. For instance, understanding students’ physiological and safety needs can help educators create safe and comfortable learning environments. This is particularly important in international schools, where students may be far from their home countries and familiar environments.

Furthermore, addressing students’ needs for love and belonging can help foster a sense of community in international schools. This can be achieved through activities that promote intercultural understanding and respect for diversity. Finally, by addressing esteem needs and promoting self-actualization, educators can help students develop a strong sense of self and a desire to contribute positively to the world.


Abraham Maslow’s theories have had a profound impact on international education. His understanding of human needs and motivation has helped shape the way education is approached and delivered globally. By addressing students’ needs at all levels, educators can create an environment that fosters learning and development and prepares students to become responsible global citizens.

While Maslow’s theories were developed over half a century ago, they remain relevant today. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, the importance of understanding and addressing human needs in education becomes ever more critical. In this regard, Maslow’s contributions to international education continue to be invaluable.

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