One of the peak experiences I have recently had, according to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, was teaching a young friend of mine to ride a bicycle. I remember my own first, formative experience of this kinesthetic learning event quite well. By remembering this event while teaching another, I was able to truly ascend to the top of the pyramid of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
On a very basic level, my functional needs, when I learned to ride a bicycle, were satisfied by my bicycle-riding experience, given the fact that my immediate physiological needs were completely satisfied -- on the day I first rode a two-wheeler I was not hungry or tired, and the sun was shining. I loved my new bicycle, now shorn of its training wheels, and even just getting on its seat, standing there, I felt I had made a tremendous improvement, given that the bicycle until recently had only had to have training wheels, and that it was not a tricycle. Yet I was also secure in the knowledge that it could be like a tricycle, if I needed the wheels put back on, and that I could return, safely, to the comforts of three or four wheels, if I felt a need to do so. Thus, my needs for safety and security were fulfilled as I embarked into the unknown of the 'two wheeled' experience of riding.
Learning how to ride a bicycle also fulfilled my need for belonging, as I knew, once I learned how to ride the bike, that I could participate more fully in the social life of my school, which often involved cycle-riding as a form of social recreation, and also would enable me, if I chose, to commute a slightly longer distance to my friend's homes, rendering me less dependant upon my parents. But I did not have to give up the care of my parents to ride a bicycle. Rather learning how to ride a bicycle was just simply a very positive experience of independence for myself.
I felt very good about myself, after learning how to ride a bicycle. My self-esteem was notably improved. However, I never felt so positively about riding a bicycle myself, until I had the peak experience of teaching another person that same skill. At the time, it had been quite a while since I had ridden a bicycle. But it's true what they say -- you never forget how to do so, and to teach someone a skill is to learn how to do that skill one's self, even better. I knew, that by educating my young friend in the skills of bicycle riding, that I was conveying an important social and physical skill to another human being, and giving this friend of mine the same gifts that bicycle riding had given to me.
After teaching this skill, I felt like a good teacher. But more than that, I felt as if the skills I had learned as a young person had not been learned in vain. Once an individual proceeds out of the world of childhood, where physical activity is of such importance, it is easy to forget the basic joys conveyed by the physiology of sun, warmth, and pleasure in a physical skill well done. I experienced a sense of fulfillment and self-actualization by teaching this skill to a child, because I knew that I had not forgotten one of my old skills, and I enabled another person to feel the same sense of pride that I did, in accomplishing something that was once frightening, but was now easy.
I also like to think, that when teaching this skill, I conveyed a sense of security to the person I was teaching. The child seemed to feel relaxed and comfortable, even though the act of removing the training wheels from the bike initially seemed to create a certain anxiety in the eyes of the individual. It made me proud that my presence gave the young person a sense of security and fulfillment that transcended the possible physical anxiety and nervous tension that might come with the first few moments of rolling on two wheels across the blacktop. During the first few minutes, of course, I clutched the back seat of the bicycle, to ensure that the child…