We note that the next meeting of the Literary Discussion Group, sponsored by the Women’s Club of Cooperstown, will be held on Thursday, April 23 at 2:30 p.m. at the Village Library of Cooperstown. The book for discussion at the meeting will be “Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker” by Jennifer Chiaverini. The meeting is open to the public.

At the last meeting of the group, when the book for discussion was “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen, we finally had the opportunity to share our Christmas gift related to that book. This past year we had submitted the 2015 book list as our Christmas list. And we received a fair number of the books, including “Pride and Prejudice.”  And with that book we also received a Jane Austen Action Figure which included both a tiny quill pen and a tiny “Pride and Prejudice” book. Those who attended the meeting were appropriately appreciative of our unexpected, but greatly liked, gift.

We also noticed at the meeting, since we have never taken the action figure out of the box for fear of losing both the quill pen and the book, that on the bottom of the box it says “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who does not recycle this package, must be intolerably stupid. Recycling is the most perfect renewal of the spirit and the best recipe for happiness ever devised.” Now we must admit that when in the past we have taken our recyclables to the transfer station, these were not exactly the emotions we felt. But far be it from us to argue with the thoughts found on a Jane Austen Action Figure box.

We were delighted to read about the success of the CCS girls basketball team which ended its 2015 season as state champions. It was indeed nice to end what we thought to be a most trying winter with such good news of the teams accomplishment. We are always pleased when our students excel in their chosen undertakings. And while we realize there are those who feel sports are not needed in our school, we would most definitely disagree with that assessment.

In fact, we would argue that while it is indeed a special experience to end up as state champions, the valuable lessons learned by the champions are the same valuable lessons learned by those students who play on any of our sports teams It is our thinking that the life lessons learned while playing sports augment the learning experience of all our students. And thus, while special congratulations go to the girls basketball team, we also salute all the many students at CCS who take advantage of our sports program. We are all the richer for their participation.

Based on what we have read of late, there seem to be a number of seemingly all interrelated issues swirling about at CCS. And while we find them all to be of interest, there is yet another education related issue we have encountered of late that seems to be troubling to a number of people, namely the teaching of cursive writing. Now we must admit that we do not know whether cursive writing is an issue at CCS, but it does seem that it is an issue popping up around the country.

Some states, including California, Georgia, Massachusetts and Tennessee, have adopted the teaching of cursive writing while other states, such as Nevada, are considering it. We must admit that without learning cursive writing, we would think it would be difficult to read old letters, journals and historic documents. We have also talked with a friend who was dismayed when she realized a great-grandchild could not read what she had written on the child’s birthday card.

And while we have thought the arguments in favor of teaching cursive writing have been mostly emotion, we gather from what we read about a research project done in 2012 by Hanover Research tends to indicate there might be more to the argument than that. In a May 9, 2013 article, “Some States Reaffirm Cursive Instruction,” written by Ashley Bateman and found at news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2013/05/09/states-reaffirm-cursive-instruction, we learned the following:

“Research on how children’s brains develop indicates cursive is a crucial skill. In a mid-sized suburban Michigan school district, last year Hanover Research studied the effects of handwriting instruction on students to help the district decide whether to toss cursive because Common Core does not require it. They concluded elementary students need ‘at least 15 minutes of handwriting daily for cognitive, writing skills, and reading comprehension improvement,’ said Sidney Phillips, Hanover’s senior vice president of development. ‘I think there’s an overemphasis on technical integration in the classroom with minimal research done,’ he said.”

And while our experience with note taking in college is simply our experience, we must say that not only did we benefit from taking the notes by hand but we also benefited when we diligently re-wrote the notes when studying for exams. Somehow that process seemed to cement for us what we needed to know. Now, of course, we write this column on the computer. And if you asked us what we wrote about last week, we would have to look it up. But that might have more to do with age than writing skills.

And finally, we note that as winter seems to be, ever so slowly, losing its grip on the area, potholes about the village are very much making their presence known. Thus we were heartened to read that the village is planning to repave a number of streets this year. Unfortunately, no explanation was forthcoming as to how the lucky streets were chosen. Nor have we heard what the plans are for the streets that did not make the cut but nonetheless are blessed with their fair share of potholes. It seems that every time a truck of any size travels on upper Pioneer Street our entire house shakes, something we have not noticed until this year. And Main Street just northeast of the flagpole, where we think there was a water line problem, seems to have disappeared altogether. Plus, although we have not encountered it ourselves, we have been lead to believe that Chestnut Street also has some real issues. It will be most interesting to see how it all paves out.

PLEASE NOTE: Comments regarding this column may be made by mail at 105 Pioneer Street, Cooperstown, NY 13326, by telephone at 607-547-8124 or by e-mail at cellsworth1@stny.rr.com


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