Maslow & Bloom

A phrase that seems to be making its way around education circles is “Maslow before Bloom”.  Maslow’s Hierarchy is a model of human motivation that demonstrates how needs motivate an individual (Maslow, 1943).  Benjamin Bloom’s taxonomy is a tool for developing educational objectives (Bloom, 1956). The phrase “Maslow before Bloom” essentially means that in order for a person to effectively participate in the educational process (Bloom), that person must first have their basic needs met (Maslow).  This is especially important during the pandemic. Let’s take a little deeper dive into these two models.

Many people are familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  It’s been around since 1943 and would easily make it on to a “greatest hits” list of psychology.  It’s an oldie but a goodie.  Here’s a quick primer (Maslow, 1943):

Physiological Needs

In Mandt we call these “basic needs”.  According to Maslow, these are the needs that typically must be met first.  We’re talking about things like food, shelter, water, sleep, warmth, etc.

Safety Needs

This is the need to feel physically, emotionally, and psychologically safe.

Love and Belongingness Needs

In Mandt we call these “healthy relationship needs”.  This is the need to connect to others.   Human beings are a social species.

Self Esteem Needs

Mandt calls these “achievement needs”. These are externally motivated needs.  A person may work on a task to receive an external reward.

Self Actualization Needs

These are intrinsically motivated needs.  This is the need for growth, creativity, and development.

I find it interesting that Maslow actually updated his hierarchy of needs in 1969 to include what he called “self transcendence” (Kolta-Rivera, 2006). 

Self Transcendence

This is the need to connect to something higher than oneself.  This involves finding meaning and purpose in life.  In self actualization, one actualizes their personal notion of self; whereas in self transcendence, one goes beyond it.  In Maslow’s updated hierarchy, a person must first actualize before they can transcend.  In other words, you have to discover yourself before you can get over yourself.

Outside of education circles, not as many people are familiar with Bloom’s taxonomy.  Benjamin Bloom developed his taxonomy of educational objectives in 1956, though it has been updated and modified since (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001).  Here’s a basic description of the revised version of Bloom’s taxonomy:


This is the memorization and recall of facts.  This is important, but is a lower level objective of learning.  Knowledge is a building block for higher learning objectives.


This means that the person has not just memorized the material, but understands the material.  The person can explain, compare, and contrast the information.


This is the actual ability to implement the information in a practical way.


This is the ability to break down the information into its component parts and determine how those parts relate to each other.


This is having the ability to make judgements about the information  It is the critical evaluation of information against a standard.


This is being able to put together component parts of information into a new whole. It is the creation of a new pattern or structure of information.

John Windsor – Mandt Faculty 

Anderson, L., Krathwohl, D. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives.  New York: Longman.

Bloom, B., Engelhart, M., First, E., Hill, W., Krathwohl, D., (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals. Longman’s Green and Co LTD.

Kolta-Rivera, M., (2006). Rediscovering the later version of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: Self transcendence and opportunities for theory, research and unification. Review of General Psychology, 10 (4) 302-317.
Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, (50) 370-396.

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