After a recent working visit to an international school in South Korea to provide behaviour and classroom management training, a number of points resonated with me.

In all my dealings with teachers and support staff in the UK, one of the first points of call will be the expectations of behaviour in class.

Now I know that we call them “Rules” or “Routines” or even “Classroom Culture”, but essentially they are the Do and Do Nots of behaviour in class.

Almost at the top of the standard rules (in my experience) and only pipped possibly by ‘no mobile phones’ and ‘no swearing’, comes the rule ‘no eating or drinking in class’.

I also believe that drinking in class should be a given – hydration improves memory function and retention. I recognise that bottled water is acceptable in many UK classrooms, but not in all. Why is that?

So imagine my surprise when the eating in class aspect was challenged when covering the Getting Back to Basics section of my classroom management training with a group of High School teachers in Seoul.

I raised the point about food in class, and how to work with students around this positively (ie when CAN you eat and drink, and WHERE?).

“Our students can eat when they’re hungry” they said. “We recognise that hunger causes lack of focus.”

The only regulation is that food eaten in class must not be too strong-smelling or ‘messy’.

There are no incidents to suggest that it isn’t a good idea to eat in class, in fact my impression is that for the South Koreans it causes no problems and therefore it’s a rule with no reason.

So when considering your behaviour management in class, give a thought as to this.  Why do you think that eating/drinking in class is disallowed and how did this originate?