The 12th Commandment: Never run a meeting without food. To be devout then, never stop people from eating and drinking in class. It will impair their ability to pay attention.

I am always surprised when a meeting room has a sign banning eating and drinking. An early and very wise theorist of human motivation, Abraham Maslow (1943) introduced the “pyramid of a hierarchy of needs.” The idea is that people have two sets of needs: deficiency and growth. The lower level deficiency needs (physiological and safety) have to be satisfied before the higher level growth needs (social, esteem and self- actualization) can be fulfilled. If the purpose of engaging in education is to feel accomplished (esteem) on the pathway to achieving one’s full potential (self-actualization), then hunger and thirst need to be satisfied (physiological) or they will become a distraction. If people are hungry in class, then instead of listening to lectures and engaging in discussion, they will be fantasizing about the first thing that they can stuff in their mouth as soon as they are out of the room. They will be stuck in their Neanderthal selves.

So, Rule #2:

    You can eat and drink, you don’t need to bring enough for everyone, but it can’t crunch or smell funny, and if you make a mess, clean it up.

(BTW: If you are wondering about the 11th Commandment: “At 65 though shalt move to Florida.” If you are a Jew you move to the east coast, all others are welcome to move to the west coast.)

Written by Helen Rothberg