Left Hand, Right Hand

I went to junior school in the early 1980s. One of my most vivid memories is the treatment meted out to a classmate who was left-handed.

Like most of my peers in the class, I was right handed. At the age of 8 or thereabouts we were all able to write letters, words and sentences commensurate with that age group’s ability. So was my left-handed classmate.

With no noticeable difference between his standard of writing and that of the rest of us, I could never understand why the teachers kept telling him it was wrong to write with his left hand. I couldn’t understand why they berated him for doing what came naturally, especially when the effort he put in and the work he produced was comparable to that of others in the class.

I was horrified when they sellotaped his pencil to his right hand to try and force him to write with it.

True story!

Do you think this produced better handwriting? Of course not. Was it the right thing to do to that little boy? Of course not. Was the teacher’s behaviour successful in suppressing the child’s innate ability and disposition? No way.

Quick lessons:

1. One size does not fit all.

2. Achieving the aim is more important than obsessing over method. 

3. Different approaches and ideas should be embraced, not feared or rejected.

So back to the sellotape, pencil, and confused, frightened child:

Does that sort of thing happen now?

Perhaps not literally.


About InspGuilfoyle

I am a serving Police Inspector and systems thinker. I am passionate about doing the right thing in policing. I dislike numerical targets and unnecessary bureaucracy.
This entry was posted in Systems thinking and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Left Hand, Right Hand

  1. catemoore says:

    I like this. I am left handed, like the boy in your childhood class. If you give people an aim Thrn allow them to form their own routes to achieve that aim you frequently surpass expectations. All it calls for is a little bravery from ‘managers’.

    I’d be interested in reading an extension of this blog with suggestions/examples.

  2. ThinkPurpose says:

    It’s like that Buddhist parable of the finger pointing at the moon. If you look at the finger, you’ll not see the moon.
    As told by the renowned sage Bruce Lee in “Enter the dragon”.

  3. I’m left handed. When I was a child I studied in a Religious (catholic) Scholl in Barcelona (Spain). I still remember that during several years I was forced to use the right hand for write and draw. I never learned. The curious thing is that the underlying assumption of the theachers (priests) was that the left hand is the “hand of the devil”. But it happened in the 60’s. So, which absurdity was behind this thinking in the 80’s??. Still the devil??

  4. Sean Flanagan says:

    Sounds like bigotry to me. I’m left-handed. It’s never happened to me but it’s shocking when children are punished for something they can’t control.

    • Sean Flanagan says:

      When I hear people go on about the so-called good old days, I wonder, “Good for who?” Not for that poor left-handed kid, not for people who were institutionalised because there was something judged to be wrong with them (I would have been locked away and forgotten about had I been born earlier and you would never have met me), not for gay men forced to undergo chemical castration, like a certain genius called Alan Turing who helped crack the Nazis’ codes during World War 2, all because society deemed him a ‘pervert’. (Don’t forget he committed suicide because of the way he was treated.) We must think of the consequences. I wonder what scars that boy suffered as a consequence of his ordeal.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s