Although I choose not to say "God bless you!" when co-workers sneeze, it's not because I don't love them or am trying to be rude—it’s because I think it's a disruption of what I, and everyone around me, is doing. But I can't imagine what would happen if I reprimanded or punished my co-workers for saying it, like a public school teacher in California has.
Steve Cuckovich, a high school health teacher in Vacaville, thinks this whole "Bless you" business is an interruption of class time, and that's why he deducted 25 points from a student’s grade for saying “Bless you” to her sneezy classmate. His reasoning, he said, had nothing to do with God, or blessing, or anything religious. Instead, he claims that not only is saying “Bless you” disruptive to the class, it just doesn't make sense anymore because, “When you sneezed in the old days, they thought you were dispelling evil spirits out of your body. So they were saying, 'God bless you' for getting rid of the evil spirits."
Unsurprisingly, the more religious parents are P.O.ed. "First the Pledge of Allegiance. Now [this]", said one disturbed dad. The uproar ultimately caused Cuckovich to rethink his discipline strategy—and he has since removed the penalty for saying “Bless you.”
Indeed, whatever Mr. Cuckovich believes, it seems unfair to penalize students for trying to be polite. That's as crazy as thinking there are spirits and blessing people for sneezing them out. What if all teachers were allowed to grade students based on their hang-ups? (My students would get docked points if they used the word "kudos" or wore Crocs.)
What do you think of this rule?