In the Oct. 1 edition of the North Wind, William Bergmann’s Professor’s Corner column titled “Contract denied for the right reasons” stated “Students want to receive
the best education for their dollar.” That is indeed a valid argument since in the U.S., students and their families pay great
amounts of money for attending
It is the choice to further their knowledge even beyond the education offered to them freely, at the secondary level, and to invest
in personal growth and enrichment. And it is certainly an investment with a great deal of
commitment and drive on the part of the student, there is no mistake about it.
Students struggle to pay for their full-time status in college by working, some up to forty hours per week, and some donate
plasma for income. All of the sacrifice,
struggle, investment and effort is for the sake of expanding one’s knowledge. But what is motivating this push to learn?
In 1943 Abraham Maslow wrote an article, which has become influential across many disciplines, titled “A Theory of Human
Motivation.” In the article Maslow revealed his idea of the hierarchy of needs.
According to Maslow, humans are motivated by just a few factors, or needs, of which each must be satisfied before the urge for the
Starting with some very basic ones, the hierarchy of needs culminates in the need to learn. The basic factors could be comparable
to those motivating any animal, and these hierarchical factors, roughly defined here, include: physiological (food, etc.), safety
(shelter, etc.), belongingness, and esteem (place in the group). Once all of these basic needs become satisfied, there is yet another urge that is activated.
This last urge exists uniquely in the human kind, and Maslow defines it as the need for Self-actualization: to become what one
What is especially interesting in Maslow’s theory is that as each need in the hierarchy is fulfilled the individual gets “restless,” and they feel somehow dissatisfied, longing for something else, longing intuitively for the next step on the hierarchy. Therefore, when all of the basic needs are fulfilled, the human being requires even more. A new desire grips them, the desire to “become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming,” as Maslow puts it.
So, the pursuit of self-improvement or knowledge, and the struggle to achieve it, even at the price we charge for it in our country, is a choice that arises out of a
You might have been indoctrinated by the social and economic order to mistake this need for an investment in your future, and to
hurry up and finish your education,
using the most efficient and economical study methods so that you can be a productive contributor to society. That is fine, as long as you know the truth of why you are driven to learn. Striving to become
a better version of ourselves is the way we, as human beings, are wired. If you feel the restlessness, however, and you want to
learn more, head straight for the library, and check out a book.
Do not type “learn more” into Google because you will encounter the vilest bastardization of this sacred human need in the form of web sites coaching you to “Learn More, Study Less.” And finally, if you ever find yourself asking the question, “why do I need to learn this for my future?” Or, “Is this
going to be on the test?”
Your answer may lie in the notion that knowledge has beckoned you here to help you grow into your authentic self.
Editor’s Note: Nell Kupper is an assistant professor of French at NMU. Professor’s Corner is a biweekly column written by various Northern faculty members.
Any professors interested in writing should contact the Opinion Editor at [email protected]