Reformed Lefties

I’ve noticed in a few other threads mention of being punished for being a “lefty” in school. I was forced (in Kindergarden or First grade) into being “right handed”, even though I always drew, colored, and cut left handed. Consequently, (I believe) I have horrible hand writing, I cannot draw a straight line, and I can’t cut straight either. Does anyone else remember this practice? Was it common? And, for Gods sake, why didn’t they just leave kids alone? Very strange…

An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity; A pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity.

I am a pure righty. My left hand is there because most people are supposed to have two hands. My husband, though, was one of those forced to switch, by his own parents. He doesn’t have fond memories on that. Our two-year-old is a pure lefty. I noticed just a little while ago that she’s even “hooking” her hand around her crayons. I will NOT force her to switch. No way, no how. And anyone that tries to force her will feel my wrath.
She’s also quite musically inclined–wants to play guitar, just like her dad. But her dad plays right-handed, with his left hand on the fretboard. I’ve asked him if he intends to teach her to play his way, or the traditional left-handed way. He says he’ll teach her to play with her left hand on the fretboard. Here’s his reasoning–her left hand is her strong hand, and the complicated stuff happens on the fretboard. Why not use your dominant hand there? I thought about that, and realized that really does make sense.

Interesting…I am also musically inclined, but have a lot of trouble with the guitar…maybe I should try strumming with my left hand?
What I don’t understand is why they did this to begin with. Why force a child to stop using thier primary hand? It’s so strange…

An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity; A pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity.

Christi: A lefty learns “unhooked” writing when introduced to the fountain pen. You quickly discover that the still wet ink smears the paper and your hand.

I’m a weird combo. I write and eat with my left hand and I never did hook my hand around. However, I do everything else right handed. When I was in grade school, I knew I was left-handed so I always grabbed a pair of those green handled left-handed scissors but, the thing is, I use scissors with my right hand. It wasn’t until I was in late grade school that I figured out why I could never get the left-handed scissors to work ;). I also had pencil lead covering my hand on the pinky side until I was finally able to switch to pen.

My grandfather was left-handed but was forced to be right-handed at school. I think, at that time, it was just “proper” to be right-handed because the left hand was associated with evil. One of my prevous boyfriends was also forced to be right-handed by his parents.

As for the correlation between left-handedness and artistic ability, it’s true in my case. I don’t know if I’m musically inclined (although I’m really into music history and admiration, I never learned to play an instrument) but I have natural talent in the visual arts field. It’s pretty much undeveloped talent but it’s there. I was always able to draw, paint, and sculpt (sp?) well. I need to learn to appreciate those talents that I have instead of feeling bitter because I want to sing and can’t sing a freakin’ note to save my life ;).

I’ve always heard that lefties tend more toward the creative side, in pretty much all arts. My daughter comes by her musical talent (and I say talent because she actually is showing some now) through her heredity–she comes from an VERY long line of musicians on her father’s side. I seem to recall my mom mentioning the fact that she was forced to change as well. My mom is quite artistic as well. Not musically, but she’s really crafty.

IIRC, the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body. I also understand that the right side of the brain is in charge of one’s creativity. Maybe this is why so many lefties seem to gravitate towards the arts? Seems like a lot of lefties forced to switch go that way too. Or they go into politics…how many left-handed presidents have we had in recent decades? Yikes…I think I’ll force my daughter to be a musician… :wink:

I’m a semi-reformed semi-lefty. When I was a tike I used to not be comfortable using crayons, etc. with either the left or the right hand (so recalls my mom). I remember at some point I switched, I think between first and second grade, from left to right-handed. Before first grade I held the crayon or whatever in one hand or the other.

I write with my right hand and do pretty much everything else with my left. I can use either kind of scissors in either hand (yes, you kind of have to hold them funny to get the blades to push together instead of apart, but I learned how to do that before I could tie my shoes). I use the fork in my left hand, brush my teeth with my left, and shift gears with my left hand (just kidding about the last part).

Recently, I’ve been trying to use my left hand in writing more, just to see what it’s like. I’m very slow with my left but my writing is okay. I’ve asked people to guess which of two samples of writing was done with which hand, and they don’t get it right more than half the time. I find being a lefty is handy when you’re copying something off a computer, right hand on the mouse, left on the pencil.

Anyway, I’ve often wondered if trouble writing, and very slow writing speed, might be why I really hated school starting about when spelling and handwriting started being big issues. I could spell the word okay in my head, but putting it on paper usually made it illegible.

Nowadays, I’m a pretty mean air hockey player, using the right hand on defense and the left on offense.

I’m totally right handed, even if I’m clumsy as hell. . .

I remember one of my teachers trying to get my best friend to use his right hand when we were both in kindergarden or the first grade. I don’t remember the teacher giving any reason for doing it. . . and my friend didn’t really like it either. He stubbornly refused to use his right hand no matter how many times the teacher tried to correct him, until finally she gave up.

So take heart, lefties. :wink:

– Sylence

“The problem with reality is the lack of background music.” – Anon

The practice used to be common enough.

I do know that my mother tied my left hand behind me to prevent me from using it, as it was my preferred hand.

I discovered, around the age of 12, that I could shoot both rifle and bow & arrow far better using a left-handed hold than a right-handed hold. (It just felt more natural.)

I have fully recovered my left-handedness, and have found that I can actually hit a baseball now. :smiley: I used to HATE Little League!

Anybody up for baseball this weekend?

(The Original EnigmaOne)
Common ¢ for all ages.

– Zette

That’s something I’ve been complaining about for years. And I thought no one could relate to me…

I was forced by my parents to write with my right hand. I remember in intermediate school when I went up to the chalkboard to write. I’d pick up the chalk with my left hand and start writing. After a few words (and a strange sensation that I forgot how to write) I would realize I was writing with my left and switch to my right.

I, too, have terrible handwriting. I can’t draw a straight line. But I’ve heard somewhere that drawing a straight line or a perfect circle, was really the hardest thing to do, even for an artist.

Cristi, urge your daughter to play a left handed guitar (the fretboard held by the right hand) I’m afraid dad’s not exactly correct in his reasoning. The real complicated stuff is done in the strumming (especially playing rhythm) and the delicate arpeggios. Believe me, I started with a right handed guitar because it was all that was available. I’m still terrible at it (I’ve practised for about 10 years) and a lot of times I wished that I restrung it backwards.
And baseball? If you were a left handed kid, it was a nightmare. I learned to throw the ball weakly with my right hand, because only right handed gloves (the glove actually on the left hand, in baseball) were available. One day I got myself a left handed glove, and guess what, I couldn’t catch anything with it because I was so used to catching with my left hand. Anyway, I never put much effort into baseball, but being left handed just made me quit it even more.

¾È ³ç, ÁÖ µ¿ ÀÏ

My husband was a lefty whose parents forced him to write with his right hand. To this day his hand writing is awful and it’s very painful to watch him write. He does other things lefty- baseball, hockey and he eats and brushes his teeth with both hands. He’s 38 now and has tried to write left handed, but it’s too late. He is forever doomed to struggle writing with his right hand. What a shame.

I think forcing kids to write right handed is a cultural/religious thing. It seems to have happened a lot in Catholic schools and in Italian families. This is just a personal observation and not meant to be rude or racist, so spare me the flames :slight_smile:

Just a quibble –

I don’t agree. If you do anything besides strum with your right hand it’s generally doing the really tricky stuff. Even a simple repetitive finger-picking pattern involves a lot more movement and coordination than holding down a chord. Granted, a lot of guitar music involves very active and nimble left hand fingering but IMHO the right hand is the real workhorse.

In support of this I submit any album by the greatest guitar player in the world, Leo Kottke – tremendous control of the instrument and a magical right hand.

p.s. I realize others may disagree about who is the greatest guitar player in the world. They are wrong.

“non sunt multiplicanda entia praeter necessitatem”


You must've had a bad baseball coach. Baseball is a sport where left-handedness is a premium, especially if you can pitch. In high school our league was cursed with a higher proportion of southpaws than the norm (leftys are supposed to be only 10% of any given population). If you're a right-hander, hitting a southpaw is a real bitch. It can be done, but it takes more effort and concentration. The natural first baseman should be a left hander, makes it easier to field errant throws. About the only position where lefties are not encouraged is catcher.

“…send lawyers, guns, and money…”

 Warren Zevon

Just spoke to the husband again, about the musician’s suggestions. He made a startling confession. His reasoning, while not completely flawed (he’s been playing for 34 of his 38 years, and is one of the most gifted guitarists I’ve ever heard, ever, in my life), does have alot more to do with money. Left-handed guitars are more expensive, all around. Reworking a right-handed guitar is expensive, too. I can understand this, but I think we’re gonna rumble on this one. A question for the guitar players–is having him sit facing her, as if in a mirror, a viable way to teach her to play? If so, then that’s what I’ll force HIM to do. :slight_smile:

Actually, I never played in any organized baseball. I just played with the local kids at the park. Left-handedness is no premium at the park.

¾È ³ç, ÁÖ µ¿ ÀÏ

My father was forced to “turn around” when he was a kid. Poor guy, he wound up with nearly illegible handwriting and a sort of mediocre ambidextrism – he could do a lot of stuff equally poorly with either hand. When I got to school my mother informed the teachers that i would be allowed to write left-handed no matter what. Unfortunately, my handwriting is nearly illegible and I can do a lot of stuff equally poorly with either hand – anyway.

I envy you people who can use either hand,i wish i was ambiguous. Cristi, I don’t play guitar,not only do you have to use both hands you got to do things at just the right time, so i can’t say hoe it would work teaching that. But i do teach scouts archery and some other things. I noticed that when i was teaching the younger boys the sign and salute that when i said’right hand up’ and demonstrated their left hands went up So I switched to using my left in demonstrations. Worked like a mirror as you said. I took that idea to archery at least for the preliminarys. Seems like it should work for you.

“Pardon me while I have a strange interlude.”-Marx

–Mr John

I don’t know if you meant that as a joke or if it was just a typo. But it’s pretty funny.
I wish I was ambiguous, too. :slight_smile:

One beer is less than two beers.

My Mom mentioned this practice to me when I was a little kid, but I figured that it was only during the “dark ages” i.e. when she was a kid. I never personally experienced it, although since people’s natural assumption is that you’re right handed, I had trouble with teachers’ instructions (“Your right hand is the one you eat with” No, it’s not).

" ‘Ideas on Earth were badges of friendship or enmity. Their content did not matter.’ " -Kurt Vonnegut, * Breakfast of Champions *

Re: the earlier discussion on lefty guitars…

I wouldn’t advise a southpaw to learn right-handed play. Lefty guitars are harder to find, yes, but the price difference is insignificant. The brain is hooked up in a certain way, and the dominant hand should be the plucker. I’m right-handed, and I’ve tried many times to play left-handed. Can’t do it. It’s torture.

Another pasttime that gives an conditional advantage to left-handers is fencing. The first time I fenced a southpaw I had absolutely no idea how to get at them.