Importance of human connection

By Roshelle Weir and Phil Slade


We were honoured to be a part of the Queensland Association of State Schools (QASSP) 2022 conference last week as a silver sponsor. Being amongst close to 400 passionate educators all looking for the same things - inspiration, connection and to learn from others' experiences.


What we observed from this diverse group of people from all over the state, was heartfelt joy at being in the same room together. It looked and felt like a massive school reunion, and in some ways it was. There is no doubt the strain of managing schools over the last couple of years during a global pandemic and unprecedented weather events has taken its toll on educators and school administrators. So it was wonderful to watch as people shook hands, hugged, smiled, laughed and had fun with colleagues they haven’t had the opportunity to see in person for so long.

From a psychological perspective, this reunion has a massive impact on the health and wellbeing of these educators. It’s easy to take for granted, but we as humans NEED to feel a sense of connection to feel motivated and fulfilled in life. It’s not just the extroverts of the world that need to be social.

In a 1943 paper titled, "A Theory of Human Motivation," American psychologist Abraham Maslow theorised that human decision-making is underpinned by a hierarchy of psychological needs. In his initial paper and a subsequent book titled, “Motivation and Personality”, Maslow proposed that five core needs form the basis for human behavioural motivation.

Maslow's theory presents the hierarchy of needs in a pyramid shape, with basic needs at the bottom of the pyramid and more high level, intangible needs at the top. A person can only move on to addressing the higher level needs when their basic needs are adequately fulfilled. (see diagram below)


This goes some way to explain why conferences can be so effective, especially for educators who have a shared sense of purpose and similar goals. While a great venue provides all our basic physiological needs, a well organised in person event provides for our psychological needs, giving participants the encouragement and motivation to learn and grow from the variety of great speakers and exhibitors (including us at Switch4Schools!).

The resurgence of in person events and conferences is great news for educators who will benefit from the professional development, but also the opportunity to be a part of an inspired and engaged community, which is great news for promoting positive mental health and wellbeing.

We are looking forward to being involved in future events, reconnecting and making new connections in this wonderful community of amazing educators that understand the importance of fulfilling all the levels of needs, to be the best version of themselves.

References

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs By Saul McLeod, https://canadacollege.edu/dreamers/docs/Maslows-Hierarchy-of-Needs.pdf