Tapping, the new cure for dyslexia
Did you get any of those smug, self-congratulatory circulars that some people like to send out to round off their year? There seem to be fewer of them about than there were, although I have just received a belated one - "my computer was in the shop" - from Jean, an acquaintance in California.
Jean does a similar job to mine in the US equivalent of FE. Or at least she did. Because her email - a lightweight affair at about 1,000 words - begins: "I just had my one-year anniversary as confidential secretary in the President's office at **** Technical College. I can honestly say that secretarial work is a whole lot easier than teaching - but not nearly as fun."
Notice whose office she now works in? In the US, the title "principal" is strictly for wimps - those who run piffling little institutions such as high schools. Heads of colleges get the kick-arse title Mr President.
Such is the sexist bias of our language that it just doesn't work the other way. Mrs President? Sounds a little like the cleaning lady. And Miss President is surely an apprentice, about set to move on from Barbie and My Little Pony. That just leaves Ms President. Is that the one Hillary will go for if she finds herself measuring for curtains in the Oval Office (perhaps that will be Bill's job)?
Just think what it would be like, though, if "president" were to catch on in colleges here. First the whole gang of principals would have to be sent on expensive courses in five-star hotels to learn how to be "presidential". Then there would be the cost of enlarging all the college doors to get the newly crowned presidential heads through.
And the rest of us would have to get used to new phraseology. "This way, Mr President." "Please rise for the President of Dungville College." Or even, when he or she has dozed off in an afternoon meeting after a heavy lunch: "Shall we wake the President?"
The other thing in Jean's message that stands out to us stuffy Brits is her use of the word "fun". Now, I like my job. I enjoy being in the classroom, at least most of the time. Whether I would classify it as "fun", though, I'm not so sure.
But then "fun" is something Californians are most definitely into. Even other Americans raise their eyebrows at it sometimes. A well-worn Tommy Lee-Jones lookalike from rural Alabama once told me: "I reckon the good Lord tilted this country over so all the nuts could roll to California."
He would certainly have appreciated Jean's next sentence. "I believe," she writes, apropos of nothing, "that all of us are divine agents of change. We are on a spiritual path headed in the same direction - some ahead, some behind - all moving along the divine continuum." By this point, I was beginning to realise how different life in technical colleges must be in California.
Certainly it seems to be a lot healthier. "At home," says Jean, "not only am I the chief maker of probiotic smoothies, but I now grind my own organic wheat berries into wholewheat flour, and have learnt how to make organic cinnamon raisin bread." And Bill, her husband, is at it too - though at what point on the continuum, we are not told. Whatever, Bill is apparently much preoccupied with "drinking cold-pressed aloe vera in his fresh organic toddies, produced with our new Vita-Mix".
When not preparing virtuous victuals, the couple are busy "tapping". This versatile alternative healthcare technique has already enabled Jean to help a man overcome his dyslexia and to treat her own diabetes-related eye condition.
To discover exactly what tapping is, you'll need to go to Google and tap in EFT. There you'll find that this stands for emotional freedom techniques, whereby you "stimulate well-established meridian points on your body by tapping on them with your fingertips".
Should you wish to, you can find out more at www.emofree.com, the web home of Gary Craig, a minister with the Universal Church of God and "an avid student of A Course in Miracles". Certainly EFT seems to be miraculously successful in healing the sick. "You can use it," the site declares, "for everything from the common cold to cancer." And it's not just physical ailments that can be treated, but also "fear, trauma, depression, grief and schizophrenia".
So now you know. Next time you come home from college feeling stressed, just bake yourself an organic loaf, search out your favourite meridian points and get tapping.