Maslow Trumps Bloom.
This has been especially true for the past year as children and families coped with the pandemic and all its now mundane (though no less heartbreaking) challenges. Sadly, these difficulties have become a part of our new normal. Throw in last week’s Arctic Assault, and many Texans are even worse off than before.
During our most recent webinar in The Reboot Mini-Series, Sean Cain and Mike Laird reminded us that Maslow has always trumped Bloom—but never more so than now. Many kids and their families are really struggling, some quite profoundly, and these struggles will have lasting impacts on children. Our real work now is to pivot from jerry-rigging together what academic instruction we can across internet broadband and focus instead on healing kids and supporting them through this crisis (crises, now) so that we have emotionally whole, healthy kids to educate when we can finally get back to the business of academics first.
Kids can’t focus on squat when their basic needs aren’t met. The past year and last week have colluded to take what used to be a minority of our population and balloon it into a much larger group of people who just don’t have what they need. Is it shelter? Water? Food? Reliable internet to log on to a 2nd grade Zoom seems like a luxury when your water is off, much less a prerequisite for public school.
And please remember that safety and security (both physical and emotional) and close relationships are a very basic need, a mere step up from food and water. Kids need love and emotional support on any given day, but especially now as they recover from the past year and its cornucopia of challenges and losses.
Sean and Mike were not asserting that we give up on academics or rigorous learning this year. But they did say that our energies as educators and adults in the lives of students should be put toward that which will yield the highest return. And right now that’s SEL and embracing our shared humanity. Whether it’s helping families meet basic needs or providing students with the time and safe space to share their feelings, we need to heal children from the traumas of this past year. That will do far more to prepare them to be better educated next school year than anything else possibly could.
Please consider reprioritizing your goals for the remainder of this school year if you haven’t already. Bloom will always be there, patiently waiting in the upper tiers of Maslow’s hierarchy. First things first—food, water, warmth, rest; security and safety; loving relationships and strong connections—as we move onward and upward.
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