Saturday, August 5, 2017

Left Handers Day 2017, part 2

August 13th is International Left Handers Day.

This is part two of three, about debunking lies and myths, and about helping your students write better.


First, there's the lie and myth (told in both Taiwan and China) that "Chinese characters can only be written right handed." Oh really?

Explain that to The International Left-Handed Chinese Calligraphy Association, based in Singapore. They are writers producing traditional and simplified characters with the left hand, using traditional techniques (e.g. brushes).

Show this page to your Taiwanese students, their Taiwanese teachers and their parents. Good Chinese handwriting IS possible, contrary to the lie.

The International Left Hand Calligraphy Association, based in Singapore


Second, there's the lie and myth told everywhere (not just Taiwan) that "left handed people can't write properly."

Very few teachers are ever trained in teaching left handed handwriting, most are only taught right handed writing techniques. That means left handed kids are taught techniques for the wrong hand, told to "copy what right handers do". They end up with bad handwriting, and then right handed teachers hypocritically and ignorantly blame the left handed kids, saying, "they can't write properly, we should force them to switch" instead of blaiming their own failure to teach properly.

Bad teaching leads to bad handwriting, which leads to poor classwork and poor tests, less enjoyment and more frustration for the student, and inevitably lower grades. The problem starts with the teachers, not the handedness of the child.

So how do we fix this?

First, teach a left handed student to hold a pencil (or pen) properly. The pencil should be cradled between the thumb, index and middle fingers like a triangle, just as right handed students do. Most left handed kids hold pencils in a death grip because of poor training and parents and teachers forcibly trying to take it out of their hands.

Second, stop forcing left handers to use techniques meant for right handers. Allow left handed children to pull the pencil, to draw lines Right To Left (e.g. the horizonal lines in T or E). Shape and accuracy are what matter, not direction, and pulling the pencil (the same way right handers do) will improve shape and accuracy.

Third, angle the paper so the arm is perpendicular to the lines and length of the paper or book. The hand should be below the line being written. This will prevent hook handing (like Barack Obama) and prevent smudging (the side of the hand covered in pencil or ink).

Fourth, ensure the left handed student is at the left side of shared desks or has a left hander to their left. Intentionally or by ignorance, many teachers place or allow left handed students to sit to the right of right handed students. This puts both writing arms in the same place, leading to conflicts, poor writing position, poor posture and poor handwriting.


Below there are several pictures showing proper hand positions which you can print and show to students. In the links, there are several videos demonstrating good technique you can watch and learn or show to your students. There is also a link to free samples of left handed writing practice sheets, or a full paid version for US$5 (which I bought myself) that you can print and copy.


Part 3 will be the last of the series. I will provide links to sites that sell left handed stationery and other items. Forget minor inconveniences like scissors, kids need rulers that number right to left, notebooks with the spine on the right of the cover, etc. These sites also sell other left handed items. I love my kitchen knives with the bevel on the proper side.

I will also include a list of role models for left handed kids to look up to, and a little history of how left handed people have been treated in the past and still are today. I'm not talking about minor inconveniences like pens on the wrong side at banks, I'm talking about rude behaviour (e.g. people refusing to take or give things if you use your left hand), discrimination and far worse.

From Global Times (PRC), October 2015:

Chinese schools should be more accepting of lefties
By Louise Ho Source:Global Times Published: 2015-10-15 18:08:03

Local media recently reported that left-handed primary school students in Shanghai are being forced by teachers to write with their right hand. The reports say that one teacher even warned the mother of a first-grade girl that writing with left hand would "cause learning difficulties." Believing the teacher, the misguided parent reprimanded her daughter to tears as a method of "re-educating" the girl.


Links and videos on left handed handwriting:

Youtube videos:

How to hold Pencil and Paper for Left handers by New American Cursive

Writing left handed, by LeftHandersClub

Problems with writing, by LeftHandersClub

From the Handedness Research Institute:

HRI: Teaching Left-Handers to Write by M.K. Holder, Ph.D.

HRI: Teaching Left Handed Writing (PDF)

HRI: What Is Wrong With This Desk? (PDF)

This Reading Mama Blog:

This Reading Mama: Left-Handed Handwriting Pages {7 free!}

No comments:

Post a Comment