Cultural, Societal and Religious Bias Against Left-Handers

Discussion in 'General Education' started by teacherman1, Dec 6, 2013.

  1. teacherman1

    teacherman1 Devotee

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    I'm right-handed and never gave "handedness" a thought until I began teaching left-handed 1st graders how to write. Even when I taught guitar at a local music store in the early 70's, I had all my new students playing "standard" guitars, regardless of their handedness. The store simply didn't stock left-handed guitars.

    If you're a lefty, be glad you live in the USA in modern times -post 1950s.

    Wikipedia has an interesting article on bias against lefties. This is from that article:

    "Western countries also attempt to convert left-handed children due to cultural, societal and religious biases. Schools tend to urge children to use their right hands, sometimes against the wishes of the child's parents. In America until corporal punishment was outlawed in schools it was not uncommon for students to be physically punished for writing with their left hands:[24] "I was educated in the USA in Catholic school in the 60s. My left hand was beaten until it was swollen, so I would use my right right [sic] hand" ... "I had a teacher who would smack my left hand with a yardstick every time she caught me writing with my left hand" ... "My fourth grade teacher [...] would force me to use my right hand to perform all of my school work. If she caught me using my left hand, I was hit in the head with a dictionary. It turned out that she believed left handers were connected with Satan."[36]"

    If you're a left-handed teacher maybe you could share your feelings and experiences about living in a "right-hand is the right/correct-hand" world.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2013
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  3. bison

    bison Habitué

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    I'm not left handed, but children have not been forced to change hands by schools in my lifetime. I don't know anyone my age or younger who has been through it. I know there are other issues such as tools designed for right-handed people, just commenting on your quotes about conversion.
     
  4. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    My grandfather was a lefty; I don't recall who taught him to write, but he wrote and drew (and lettered, and drafted, and painted, and silversmithed, and...) lefthanded, and his writing-hand position was the mirror image of that of a right-handed writer. When it came time for my uncle to learn to write, the (right-handed) kindergarten teacher begged Grandpa to work with his son on hand position, writing grip, and the like; Grandpa did, and the consequence is that my uncle's hand position was exactly the same. I think, but am not sure, that they avoided smudges by gripping pens and pencils farther from the point than is the style today - but Grandpa learned to write in the days of inkwells and blotting paper, and the standard grip for everyone did tend to be farther from the writing surface.
     
  5. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I was ambidextrous when very young but had terrible handwriting until my 1st / 2nd grade teacher insisted I pick one hand and stick with it. For years, my dad was annoyed that she let me pick and I went with the left. Now, it makes things much easier when Rockhubby and I are working side-by-side, since we're both "sinister" and don't run the risk of elbowing one another.
     
  6. geoteacher

    geoteacher Habitué

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    I am a lefty - which annoys my younger sister. She is right-handed, but guess who taught her to cut? :)
     
  7. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    My hoosband, his sister, and his dad are all lefties. While they sometimes struggle in a right-handed world, I wouldn't think that any of them feel any sort of bias or discrimination against them. Nowadays I don't know of anyone who is forced to switch handedness, although I think it was fairly common back in the day.
     
  8. Bunnie

    Bunnie Devotee

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    When I taught K a few years back at the beginning of the school year I was teaching a student how to hold a pencil and write. I would circle around the room helping other kids and came back to seeing this student had switched hands. I kept switching it back for him, previously noticed he had poor motor skills (hard time cutting), so I thought maybe he just couldn't hold a pencil right. I spoke to the parent after school about what I observed and he told me that his son was left handed. It didn't even dawn on me at the time and I was like oh! Well that makes sense! The parent and I chuckled a bit over it and he told me he had trouble realizing it at first too. Meanwhile I did have another left handed student but since he was able to write it didn't really stand out until one random day when I paid close attention.
     
  9. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    My uncle was left-handed. The nuns tied his left arm to his side so that he couldn't use it. They were convinced it was a sign of the devil. This was in the the early 1950s. To this day, he writes right-hand - rather awkwardly - and his handwriting is very difficult to read.
     
  10. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    I'm left-handed. My mom and grandmother were supposed to be left handed, but were made to write right-handed before they got into school.
     
  11. teachart

    teachart Comrade

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    I'm a left handed art teacher. I don't feel like I struggle much (used to smeared writing by now) but I do feel incapable of helping right handed students with pencil grip. And forget about hand-over-hand.
     
  12. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Many schools disallow Wikipedia as a reliable source.
     
  13. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    That may be true, but in this case, the information is correct. There is a reason that the Latin for left, "sinister", has come to mean evil. Also, the word ambidextrous means "both right". The devil was supposed to lurk on the left side, which is why spilled salt is supposed to be tossed over the left shoulder. Thankfully, most of these ideas have gone away, but the stigma, to a degree, remains.
     
  14. bison

    bison Habitué

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    Wikipedia is not good for research papers, but it's good for general overviews and casual learning.
     
  15. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    To a degree...yeah, the world is pretty much right handed...doorknobs, scissors, writing, driving..whatever...favors those who are right handed. But a stigma? Not sure I'd 'brand' it that way.
     
  16. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I'm looking primarily at the etymology as well as the continued religious impact of the devil on your left shoulder, going by the original title of the post. Stigma, admittedly, is too strong a word, but BOY my dad was annoyed when I picked my left hand dominance.
     
  17. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Wasn't there something too about the lefties being eyed with more caution dating back to medieval times because they could still pull their sword with their dominant hand while shaking hands with the right as was tradition?

    I'm left-handed and have never felt any kind of "bias" because of it. They make left-handed versions of everything from spiral notebooks to can openers now that can be obtained pretty easily. I cut with my right hand because we didn't have any kind of left-handed scissors, but I don't think that was a forced thing.

    The only thing I still don't like is having to manipulate a mouse with my right hand-I don't think I could do it with the left now because I've adapted, but I feel less control with the right hand. You know what they say-since the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body-only lefties are in their "right" minds! ;)
     
  18. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    I'm a lefty, my husband is and so are my two sons. My daughter is the only righty in our house. My early memories of school and being left handed was with my mom ( She was also an art major at a very prestigious college in the 1940-s...for whatever that means...) argued with my kindergarten teacher who told her that I need to be taught to use my right hand. My mom said "she will use whatever hand she wants to use and she will not be forced to use another. " So thankful my mom was a smart lady who knew what was "right...left?""
    I have read studies that show children who are forced to trade handedness tend to have stuttering and other language issues.
    Meanwhile....my husband is left handed an art director (where 90% of his artists are lefties)....my two boys are left handed and both on the spectrum. Our daughter who is right handed, is a college graduate and a teacher. So take from this long winded post whatever you may! :p Many things are awkward for lefties. We just learn to adjust.
     
  19. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I'm the only lefty in my family, and I've never experienced any negative attitudes. For me it's not even uncomfortable, because I'm right hand dominant, so a lot of things I can only do with my right hand: peel potatoes, use scissors, using the computer mouse
     
  20. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    My dad is a lefty and he has often wished for left-handed notebooks and left-handed scissors...but other than that, I don't hear the often complaint.
     
  21. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    My MIL was forced to be a righty. DS is a lefty. His left hand has always worked better then his right, from the instant he was born! He writes & eats left handed, most everything else is right handed.

    When he learned to play baseball everyone on his team was right handed, so he choose that hand. He will bat left handed, but only in the batting cages.

    As I was teaching him to do things I learned to use my left hand. So now, depending on what I'm doing I use my left hand. Makes me wonder if I was forced to use my right hand.
     
  22. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I had forgotten about those little issues. My left arm usually bore the imprint of my notebook spiral and the blade of my hand was covered in graphite or ink from the tip of my pinky to my wrist. It was a happy day when my typed assignments were accepted by my teachers instead of their demands for hand-written ones (I learned to touch-type as soon as I could).
     

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