While I don’t just surf the net looking for articles on left-handedness, this article’s title caught my attention while I scoped out msn.com’s homepage (citation at the end of the article. The article summarizes the author’s book that was recently published. Basically, it’s his way of exploring how lefties (or what he calls southpaws) develop their preference for their left hand, what it means for the lives, and how it is passed on to offspring. The summary intrigued me and has encouraged to take a look at the book. What struck me was the fact that the left-handed author named his book, The Body Odd. I don’t want to get too offensive but why is it odd that I’m left-handed? Sure, it’s rare, only 1-in-10 is born left-handed, but why should it be odd?
Some points I did find interesting was the fact that he mentions lefties have to overcome challenges early in life because every skill that is demonstrated has to translated into left-handed motions. This is something that I have mentioned in an early post, but have also wanted to explore. What is it like to be left-handed and have skills, such as writing, cutting bread, batting, catching, etc, demonstrated by someone who is left-handed? Does it make it easier? I would think so, but I also think that there’s a badge of honor from having overcome the challenge of having to translate right hand demonstrations into left-handed actions.
As an English teacher, it’s surprising to me to find the left-handed students in my classes. Usually within the first two weeks of school I can pick them out while I walk around the room watching them write. Sometimes they even approach me because they see me writing on the board with my left hand. Surprisingly the left-handed students notice that I’m left-handed right from the start. Many right-handed don’t notice that I’m odd, until a month or two into the school year.
Usually the left-handed students will come talk to me about their experiences with school and being left-handed and I share mine as well. Many times we commiserate over what it’s like to have pen and pencil stains on our hands because of the way we right, or our loathing of spiral notebooks and how much our hands hurt after trying to write in them all day long.
As the year goes on I start to notice how each one has overcome the challenge to write using their left hand. Some students tilt their paper so that they can push the writing instrument across the paper without smearing anything. Others curl their hands around the top of the paper to pull the pen/pencil across the page (President Obama does this). I have one student who actually writes his letters and numbers backwards because that’s how he’s translated right-handed methods of writing into our “southpaw” language.
Since becoming a professional educator, it’s my goal to reach out to all students to help them learn and achieve success. At the same time, I can’t help avoiding the call to mentor the left-handed students and help them improve their handwriting (sometimes the translation from right to left hand is always intelligible!). It’s not that I go out of my way, but I feel that they need a role model just as much as those educators who serve as role models for specific ethnicities, genders, or sexual orientations. Why shouldn’t the right hand students have to learn to reverse everything I do in order to make it their own? Part of me feels this is my revenge for all the teachers who criticized me because I couldn’t replicate their right hand methods of doing things (that’s another blog post in itself). On the other hand, I feel it’s important for the right hand majority to increase their awareness of the silent minority. After all, what’s it going to hurt them to see me slanting my writing to the left and not the right? Diversity is the spice of life!!