Choice Theory – Basic Needs versus Desires

In my current work-at-home situation, I am investigating ideas and theories for future writing ventures.  Having three children at home as I read about classroom management and best instructional practices has prompted me to seek their opinions.

William Glasser’s choice theory, as stated in Quality School (1990), proposes that “all human beings are born with five basic needs built into their genetic structure: survival, love, power, fun, and freedom” (p. 43) (also described on the website).  Quality work depends on humans being able to choose situations, projects, pathways, etc. that satisfy these basic needs.  My college junior majoring in English and psychology would not accept these five tenets as needs.  The body will not die without them.

My husband disagreed.  He thinks love is a need, which perhaps highlights our human desire for connecting and belonging.  How many of us are increasing our use of social media during stay-at-home requests prompted by COVID-19 (love and belonging)?  How many of us venture out for supplies that we would not otherwise consider necessities (basic need for freedom)?  How many of us are choosing pathways that satisfy what Glasser describes as other basic needs (survival, power, fun)?

When I framed Glasser’s statement as “desires” rather than “needs,” my children ages 13, 18, and 21 became more accepting.  They still questioned how much and to what degree survival, love, power, fun, and freedom contribute to their motivation to do quality work, but that will be a different discussion on a later day when their freedom and fun are further limited with extended e-learning days.

My question is this: How are you motivated right now by survival, love, power, fun, and freedom?

My next question:  How might this motivation aspect of choice theory apply to education in these days of isolation and e-learning?

Let me know your thoughts.

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