Teachers should factor in left-handed learners’ needs

Friday, August 13th, 2021 00:00 |
Pupils in class. Photo/File

 Today is the International Left-Handers Day marked globally to celebrate the uniqueness and differences of left-handers. 

First observed on August 13, 1976, the day promotes awareness of the inconveniences faced by left-handers in a predominantly right-handed world. 

About seven to 10 per cent of the world’s population is left-handed. Many of the left-handed people in today’s society have to adapt to use right-handed tools and objects and the day’s objective is to spread awareness about the special needs of left-handed children. 

Two weeks ago, over one million Kenyan children joined Grade One. These children are joining the education system as the country introduces the competency-based curriculum (CBC) which not only emphasizes the significance of developing skills and knowledge, but also how to apply the competencies to real life situations. 

This means the new system is modelled to give learners a practical experience and relevant technical skills in a specific field.

The implementation of CBC gives rise to several questions: Are our teachers equipped to handle left-handed pupils?

Does left-handedness affect how learners acquire skills and knowledge especially during the CBC era where emphasis is on competencies as opposed to mere knowledge of the skills?

Is there a correlation between left-handedness and intelligence quotient (IQ)?

In many parts of the world, there are still very strong cultural stigmas against left-handedness. 

Stories abound of parents forcing their left-handed kids to become right-handed. 

This discrimination against lefties goes back thousands of years in many cultures including the West.

For this reason, left handedness remains a critical question  especially if teachers discriminate against left-handed children. 

Experts concur that when a child is forced to change from being left-handed to right-handed, their mental and physical development is affected which is why our teachers and educational experts need to factor in this group in their strategy as we reform our education system. 

Despite the cultural biases against left-handedness, some of the most talented and influential people through history share this one trait that has given them incredible abilities in other ways.

In the past few decades, the US presidency for instance has veered more and more to the left – not in ideology, but in handedness, with five of the last seven presidents being left-handed: They are John F Kennedy, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. 

Closer home, our own President Uhuru Kenyatta and Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka are left-handed.

Other known left-handers include Aristotle, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, John Pele and Oprah Winfrey.

Big names such as Isaac Newton, Julius Caesar, Queen Victoria, Prince William, Bill Gates, Steve Forbes, Henry Ford and David Rockefeller also share the trait. 

This list demonstrates that lefties seem to make exceptional leaders, inventors, artistes, and communicators. 

Left handers achieve greatness in many walks of life, but particularly in creative, sporting and artistic fields where their natural talent and ingenuity have made a huge contribution to humanity. 

Let our teachers unleash the power and genius in our left-handed children by knocking down the mental boundaries that cast left handedness in negative light.  Happy Left-Handers Day! — The writer, a left-hander, is a communications consultant — [email protected] 

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