Joy of Learning Classes October, 2019

Falmouth Public Library is very pleased to present the October, 2019 session of Joy of Learning classes.   This session we are offering five classes, one more than usual, and we have added a Wednesday evening time slot too.

What are Joy of Learning classes, you ask?  Every April and October the library offers a free series of 4-week classes on history, literature, arts appreciation, religion, science, and the like, which are taught by volunteer instructors who are often retired educators or specialists in their field.  Classes are either lecture format or discussion groups, depending upon the subject matter and instructor.   Literature class registrants receive a complimentary copy of the assigned books or stories that will be read, but aside from those readings, there is no homework or tests!  Classes are geared toward adults, at a high-school level and up.  

For many years, Joy of Learning classes were organized and funded by the Friends of Falmouth Public Library.   At the beginning of this year, the organizational reins were passed to the reference department, and the Friends continue to support the program by supplying new books and thank you gifts for the instructors. 

If you have any questions or suggestions for classes you would like to see in the future, contact Sue Henken or Faith Lee in the reference department at 508-457-2555 x 6 or email at

To register for a class or classes, go online to , contact the reference department or drop by the reference desk.


Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Through shared inquiry, participants will explore the ideas, meaning, and themes presented in Fahrenheit 451 with a focus on the context under which Bradbury wrote the novel including the Nazi book burning, the McCarthy era, the House Un-American Activities Committee; and Bradbury’s concerns about how mass media may reduce the interest in literature. 

This discussion group will be led by Joanne Holcomb.  Joanne is a retired English teacher of 35 years and English/language arts department head of over 14 years at Falmouth High School.  This will be Joanne’s second Joy of Learning class.    

Format:  discussion of assigned readings.  Group size limited to 19.  Discussion Leader:  Joanne Holcomb.  Schedule:  Mondays, October 7, 21, 28 & November 4, 10:00 – 11:00 AM.  Note: There will be no class on Columbus Day, October 14. 

Lifestyle and Brain Health
This series of discussions will focus on how lifestyle influences our brains and its functions, including learning, memory, and mood.  Topics will include stress, sleep, exercise, and social interactions.  Some basic introductory concepts in brain science will be presented; no background is necessary.

Michael Zigmond, a professor emeritus of neurology and psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh will lead the discussions.  Michael’s research has been on animal models of Parkinson’s disease and aging.  He and his wife now live full time in Woods Hole.

Format:  presentation and discussion.  Discussion Leader:  Michael Zigmond.  Schedule:  Tuesdays, October 8, 15, 22 & 29, 2:00-3:00 PM. Note:  Class begins on the second Tuesday of the month.

Short Story Selections:  Alice Munro
Through shared inquiry and discussion, participants will explore selected stories in Alice Munro’s short story collection, Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage (2001).

This discussion group will be led by David Webb, who has taught Joy of Learning classes in October on short story writers, since 2016 –  previously on William Faulkner and National Hawthorne.  David is a 1964 graduate of Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School, 1968 from Wesleyan, and he holds two advanced degrees from Columbia University.  He spent his entire career at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, CT, where he taught English, mathematics, and Architectural Design and did college counseling.  He is now retired and lives with his wife in Cotuit.

Format:  discussion of assigned readings.  Group size limited to 19.  Discussion Leader:  David Webb.  Schedule:  Wednesdays, October 2, 16, 23 & 30.  10:30 – 11:30 AM.  Note:  There will be no class on October 9.  

Quaker Roots of Colonial Falmouth
Learn about the Quakers and the founding of Falmouth, their influences on the colonial town, tales of settlers and their influences through the Civil War. 

This class will be presented by husband and wife team, Abigail Reynolds and David Young.  Abigail is a novelist and retired physician, and when not digging into the history of Falmouth or Regency England, she has managed to write 15 historical novels and 2 modern tales set in Woods Hole.  David, a retired computer nerd, is fascinated by fitting together the jigsaw-puzzle pieces of our history, particularly in conjunction with the big-picture view that is his wife’s specialty.  Lectures (subject to minor changes):  1.  Quakers and the Founding of Falmouth, 2. Quaker Influences in Colonial Falmouth, 3. Tales of Quaker Settlers, 4. The Quaker Influence Through the Civil War.

Format:  lectures with slides.  Lecturers:  Abigail Reynolds and David Young.   Schedule:  Wednesdays, October 9, 16, 23 & 30, 7:00 – 8:00 PM.  Note:  Class begins the second Wednesday of the month.

Korea:  1950 – Today:  America’s Forgotten (and Longest) War
This course will trace the origins of the Korean War as a proxy war between the USA, with United Nations support, and the Soviet Union and China.  Major emphasis will be on the fighting during 1950 and 1951, the Inchon landings, and General MacArthur’s disastrous decision to pursue the North Korean army to the Yalu River, which brought the Chinese into the war, and ultimately led to a deadly strategic stalemate, which was only ended by the 1953 armistice.  Recent developments in the relationship between the USA and North Korea will also be discussed. 

Instructor Michael McNaught has taught many military history classes for Joy of Learning over the years.  He has B.A. and M.A. degrees from Oxford University, where he specialized in Military History and the Theory of War.  He also has an MA in history from Columbia.  An independent schoolteacher and administrator for 44 years, Michael retired to Falmouth in 2004 and lectures widely around Cape Cod. 

Format:  lectures with slides.  Lecturer: Michael McNaught.  Schedule:  Thursdays October 10th, 17th, 24th & 31st, 11:30 AM-12:30 PM.   Note:  Class begins on the second Thursday of the month.


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