Thursday, February 8, 2007

Needs Gluttony?

I'm rereading Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs for my Administrator's Certification class tonight. Although the information is pretty basic (pardon the pun), I wonder if we've created a world where over-indulgence in basic needs has created individuals who no longer strive to attain self-actualization. What if we're satisfied being stuck in the "fast-food-bigger-and-better-more-and-more" world we've built for ourselves? I think the term is "affluenza" right Steve? Our nation's children are poorer and more overweight than ever before, yet our efforts as adults have been to feed primarily into their consumer frenzy. Media and industry have placed their focus more on reaching children as buyers. We are building cell phones, mp3 players, and game consoles for the child market and forgetting that our children are neglected at home. Sometimes we even have the nerve to reward mediocrity in our schools and organizations. What are we really teaching our future leaders?

There is an joke in our culture that Chamorros don't eat until they are full, they eat until they are tired. Although this is said in jest, and I am sometimes guilty of it, it is a disturbing truth for all of us to heed. Somewhere along the way, we've made it okay for kids to only feel satisfied when their animal needs are met. I agree with some parents that character education is best left to families, and that children should be inducted into the beliefs of their households. But, there is a real need, again, in today's world to introduce skills and traits that reinforce things like initiative, teamwork, perseverance. When I taught the third grade, I was faced with an issue I did not know how to deal with - how did I teach my students when some of them were going through life changing events? I decided to learn how to counsel them so that I could better reach them academically. It is one of those things I will never regret doing. Our efforts as educators will always fall short unless we take into account the importance of giving our kids something to look forward to. I am reminded of an interview with a teacher who said she wanted to teach so that she could impart to her students their potential. Potential is a big word. Potential is never satisfied. Potential is always striving. I'd choose potential over an A+ anyday.

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