Within this past summer, I learned that Abraham Maslow’s work is based (derived/stolen) the Blackfoot Nation work. It’s funny because this blog post was written in 2014. Five years to learn about this?
At a conference last week of the National Indian Child Welfare Association, I learned that Abraham Maslow, one of the founders of humanistic psychology, borrowed generously from the Blackfoot people to refine his motivational theory on the hierarchy of needs.https://lincolnmichel.wordpress.com/2014/04/19/maslows-hierarchy-connected-to-blackfoot-beliefs/
Briefly, Maslow’s theory suggests that humans are motivated to fulfill first the most basic of needs, such as food, clothing and shelter. Once those needs are met, they move on to the need for safety and security. The needs become progressive, advancing to love and intimacy and then self-esteem before reaching self-actualization. The highest level is where humans are self-aware and grow to achieve their individual potential.
“This is a rip-off from the Blackfoot nation,” University of Alberta professor Cindy Blackstock told her workshop audience on Wednesday.
I am going to fumble my way through this, and welcome any corrections to my understanding of this philosophical shift: the group puts everyone’s sense of belonging to the community first, the foundation for the group, and then all other needs grow, reach to the sky, forever, from this. And in practical, pragmatic sense, this is true. We must recognize each other as here, life and living, and the food, water, air, shelter, love, grow from this foundation. Our individual potential comes first.
Let’s consider food: we all need to eat. Schools are filled with children, 18 and under, who do not have access to jobs, money, income, and are at the mercy of the compulsory educational system which demands their presence and attendance.
That should be the foundation of the culture of schools.
And then, in our country, we don’t feed them?
We shame. We deny. We judge. We withhold. We mock. We yell. We violate. But we do not simply feed them.
Oh, and if someone like Michelle Obama suggests that fresh fruits and vegetables be added to students’ choices, she’s disparaged through racism and evangelical evils. Because according to Trump-supporting evangelicals, only the wealthy deserve what they have. To be poor is a sin. And since Maslow altered his diagram for Westernized consumption, we have even failed at this. We don’t provide basic human needs. We don’t have clean water in our schools. Or food (unless you’ve filled out a tangle of bureaucratic paperwork and put on public record that you need assistance). We don’t have safe shelters. Look at the crumbling buildings many students attend every day. Self-actualized? It is all making sense now. We don’t want students to become self-actualized. And I say “we” because until every educators’ voice is speaking out and up, and pushing for legislation to change this, nothing will change.
Just feed kids.
Follow up to this story: https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/25/us/pennsylvania-lunch-debt-furor-apology/index.html
Featured image from: https://recipes.howstuffworks.com/menus/who-decides-lunch-plans.htm