Teacher training – comments on our article
– Views on lefthanders and writing
We posted an article about Teacher Training and Left handed Children in March 2012 and received a huge response, with over 200 comments totalling some 30,000 words and hundreds of emails – this is certainly the biggest response to anything we have ever posted.
A lot of people told us about their experiences and those of their children with writing problems and the level of support they got (or at least didn’t get!) from teachers. Here is a selection:
- As a youngster myself the only class I ever failed was penmanship because the teacher didn’t know what to do with me
- I was constantly having my writing book straightenedâ€ so that I had to write with my hand smudging the words I had written. I write with my book/paper sideways to write toward myself. Teachers should be made aware that whatever the position of the book there is no rightâ€ way, only the comfortable way. To top it all, I got marked down on occasion for scruffy writing.
- Little attention is paid to establishing good writing practices for left handers. Left handers often need special attention to make sure that they are holding pencils in the right grip and positioning the paper in the right way. This does not happen in my experience.
- At school I had a bad time with handwriting – my handwriting was deemed poor, careless and illegibleâ€ No help was offered as to how I could improve. It wasn’t until I was introduced to Italic writing an bought a left handed Italic pen that things improved. Left handed fountain pens make a big difference and now my writing is considered pretty O.K. Don’t ever try and change a left hander, whether child or adult. I was once asked if I would not find it easier to use my right hand to which I replied About as easy as you would to use your left handâ€
- If trying to teach joined-up writing to left-handers, don’t punish them if they don’t manage it. I write capital Ns from right to left to this day, and form letter Os by drawing a clockwise circle. This meant that when trying to write joined-up (which I still don’t) at school, I used to go round and round in circles until finally I sling-shot off to the right to form the next letter. I also cross Ts and Fs from right to left. I only realised these differences in adulthood.
- As for handwriting schooling from 41/2 – 7 years was a waste of time, he suffered arm pain because he had to do it the school’s way, he is left handed but I cried on deaf ears. School became a chore for him. He is just about average now but if he had had the correct left handed nurturing in those early years then maybe things would be different.
- My 8yr old is in Grade 3 in Australia. They copy a list of spelling words each day for a week as part of their homework. I have had to ask the teacher if the four days can be done in reverse across the page. ie Fri to Mon instead of Mon – Friday. Every time my child wanted to copy the next days words into the next column, they were hidden under her hand. The Teacher had not even thought about that.
- I don’t know if this is the same for many people but as a child I would write certain letters backwards.
- My parents were proactive with my writing and getting the right tools but I still had teachers who thought my writing was messyâ€ because I didn’t write certain letters the way they wanted, I have had to help my cousin who is the only left handed person in his family by pointing out to my aunt and uncle the reason he was having difficulty is that his handwriting sheets were all for right handers and as soon as they got the right ones by pursuing it with the teachers he was fine. In my experience unless someone has experience of being left handed then it doesn’t cross their mind a lot of the time that there are different ways things are done, I constantly had to swap seats with my right handed neighbour as we kept bumping elbows when writing and yet it was also inferred that it was my fault!!
- In elementary, I remember my cursive assignments being graded poorly because it did not look just like the guidelines! My teacher humiliated me in front classmates nearby, saying aloud that I got a C on the assignment and compared my work to the work of a classmate (who was right-handed). Teachers need be aware of styles for left-handers and to encourage students to be unique, but still write legibly. In addition, parents must understand the difficulties for a left-hander in a right-handed world. Being the only left-hander in my family, no one understood what I was going through.
- Nobody showed me how to write left handed and I started using the hook style. This is a big problem with any sort of ink as the writing becomes smudged. My inability to write legibly and quickly was always a disadvantage in exams. It held me back in the eleven plus but I still passed. At secondary school I switched myself to an italic writing style and adopted Osmiroid fountain pens and their left handed nibs. These allowed a better hand position even with the paper straight. I continued to suffer at GCE Oâ€ level Aâ€ level and as a undergraduate. It took me longer to write my Ph.D. thesis than it might otherwise have done. What hurts me is that I can find more useful advice on writing left handed in five minutes on the internet than I was ever taught at school.
If you have anything to add, please leave a comment using the box below.
Links to the other pages of results from this project so far:
Detailed Comments on teacher training and left-handed children
Equipment problems (scissors, desks, computers, other items)