I have always worked on site by writing in cursive in a reporter’s notebook. Recently a mother who watched me do this lamented the fact her child “would never learn cursive now.” She is likely correct.

Handwriting is on the wane. Educational policymakers have decreed the learning of longhand is passé, and a schoolteacher’s time is better spent force-feeding the federally-mandated testing curriculum (no one ever questions how education might be improved by throwing out administrators who sign off on such decisions).

It’s never been about the what. It’s about one’s ability to learn it. Like how to read, how to write and how to think.

According to psychologists and brain-trainers who do know their fields, writing cursive is loaded with cognitive demands, the most basic of which is one has to walk and chew gum at the same time. In other words, you must write effortlessly in order to think. You have to get words on the page fast enough.

So why not just teach everyone to be a crack keyboardist? Because science has proven that printing and typing do not stimulate the same rapport between the brain’s right and left hemisphere as cursive. Experiments have documented that even when students were given a full week to study the material, the scores of handwritten note takers exceeded those of laptop users on the ensuing test.

Also worth noting, there are those educators who also complain of having to teach Shakespeare in the 21st century, arguing that he is no longer relevant to their students’ lives and what they really need is skills.

Right. Violence, greed and sketchy political intrigues have no bearing on our society today.

Patricia Gannon covers society for The Acadiana Advocate. She can be reached at pgannon@theadvocate.com.

Tinsel & Treasures VIP Party

Junior League’s annual shop-a-thon kicked off with the Tinsel & Treasures Preview Party at the Cajundome Convention Center. Always the harbinger of the holidays, vendors from near and far brought their baubles and more for early bird Santas. Guests loitered in the lobby for hors d’oeuvres and VIP mingling, including presenting sponsor Dr. Melanie Fowler, Elaine and Richard Zuschlag, best-boots-ever Blaise Zuschlag, lawyer Maggie Simar and her mini-me Becca Simar, but eventually, it all came down to some serious spending. Lightening some wallets was artist Linda Theobald with her bird’s eye views of UL-Lafayette and LSU. “I go and walk the campus, take photographs and put it all in a one-piece composition,” she said. “I have over 50 universities.” What we loved: Eric Hicks and Donnie Allen, a reason to shop if there ever was one.

Red Carpet Night

Also kicking off their new season, The Acadiana Symphony Orchestra rolled out the red carpet at the Heymann Center, thus beginning a week of fundraising events and musical merriment. Parking lot resurfacing produced some wildly-waving police, but inside all went smoothly for the fall’s first Maestro Circle. There were long-stemmed red roses and some Moss Motors Champagne, while upstairs iMonelli crepes and praline chicken hit just the right notes. Symphony black abounded, La Scala to Broadway was a hit — so were the Baton Rouge Symphony Chorus and Nicholls State University Concert Choir — and world-class tenor Holden Randall Warren Greene brought the house down.

Ballet Redux

Ballet Acadiana revisited its performance of "Le Papillon: Celebrating Floyd Sonnier’s Acadiana" for members of the Autism Society. Specially engineered for the select audience, the ballet was staged at The Ballet Studio at Lafayette School of Performing Arts and a collaboration of dance, Cajun music, art projected and bilingual narration by actors in period costume. This performance was made possible by grants and sponsors, including the Louisiana Division of the Arts and Tides Medical. Ballet Acadiana hopes to continue the outreach and has another project in the works for 2018.


Saving the best for last. They came, they saw, they shouted, as the Lauren-Reilly Elliot Company held a Stella! Shouting Contest in honor of its "A Streetcar Named Desire" production. Honored also was The Advocate, judging alongside Townsquare Media’s Kathleen Gannon, Symphony Director Dana Baker and actors Andrew Lee Vincent and Alexi Langlois. Hosted outdoors by the Wurst Biergarten downtown, sponsored by — who else — Stella Artois, and emceed by Skip Woods, the gentlemen (and a few ladies) let loose their cries and were carefully judged for enthusiasm, volume, angst and desperation. There were classic Brandos, a "How youse Stella?" from Queens, but alas, many were called, few were chosen, and generating the best Brando buzz by the end of the evening were Kipp Swannie from Houston, Wyatt Steen and David Vallot, in that order. Had it been up to us, they’d all have gone home winners. Audiences can see Andrew Lee Vincent as Stanley shout for Stella on stage beginning Oct. 13 at Cite des Arts.