Anything Left-Handed > Left handed children > Teacher Training > Forced Change

Teacher training – comments on our article
– Forced change of hands to write right-handed

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.

You can see the original article “Teacher Training and Left handed Children” here

and the follow up article with conclusions from the initial feedback here

We know left-handers were physically forced to change hands and write right-handed in the past but it seems it is still happening and natural left-handers are being “encouraged” in various ways to write right-handed.   This is not going to work and can cause various problems but some teachers still seem to think that pupils should change for their own convenience or for some perverted view of “correctness”.   The practice also seems to extend to eating, where some dinner ladies and supervisors insist on children eating right-handed.

  1. I am a recent business graduate and help a girl with her O-Level Studies in my neighbourhood during my time off from work. She’s an intelligent student, but like many teenagers of her age, she has some self-confidence issues which haunt her especially during exams and question and answer sessions. I was surprised (somewhat horrified) to find out that she was originally a left-hander but as a child she was forced to switch to her right hand due to obscure social and relegious beliefs of her parents. I’ve read about the adverse effects of such practices but could it be that her shyness in class and panic in exams could be a result of being forced to switch hands?
  2. When I was in third grade (approximately 1968) my teacher did not understand how left- handed people write and kept trying to tape my writing paper down with a right-handed slant (we were learning cursive – if that doesn’t date me …). And every time she would walk away or turn her back I would rip the paper and slant it the other way (to me the correct way) and continue writing. The way she had it taped, I would have had to write upside-down, no wonder so many left-handers look like they’re writing upside-down – they are. My brother is also left-handed. When he was learning to write he was attending a parochial (church based) grade school (probably early 1960′s) and they still believed at the time if you were left-handed there was something sinister” about being left-handed and it must be changed. So they forced him to switch to his right hand for his own good”. His hand writing is still some of the worse I have ever seen. Most of the time he prefers to print, he’s just not comfortable with cursive to this day. Thank the nuns for that.
  3. I can remember my third grade teacher, literally tying my left hand to the desk, so I would be forced to use my right hand, I also received the strap numerous times for just being left handed. It’s gotta be better in the school system these days.   Keep up the good work!
  4. I was constantly corrected using my cutlery. One teaching assistant would come and snatch the cutlery out of my hands and tell me to ‘hold them the right way’.
  5. When I was in the earliest grades, I was actually *punished* for trying to write with my left hand. I was forced to stand in the corner of the classroom, facing the wall, as if I had been naughty.
  6. The first teacher I had the misfortune to have at school told me I was ‘cack-handed’. She placed the pencil in my right hand and said I wasn’t to use my left hand again. In fact, if she found me using my left hand, she called me a disobedient little wretch and smacked my hands (imagine that happening today!!). She then said my written letters (block capitals) were appalling and untidy and I was called stupid. Thank heavens my mother found out.. She confronted this teacher and told her I was left handed and to try to make write with my right hand was totally un-natural. The teacher told her that if she didn’t want me to be normal then that was up to her. I wish I had heard my mother’s response to that.
  7. I was lucky that I never had a teacher who tried to change me. The only person who did that was my father who insisted I learn to write right handed. I did that, then went back to writing left handed and he gave up. I ignored his prediction that I’d only ever be able to get a job in a pickle factory because I was left handed.
  8. As a child my mum had to go in the primary school I was at to tell the dinner lady off. I was eating my pudding and was told to stop being silly and eat properly” this being right handed!
  9. Heather, who is 8, came home and told us she got in trouble for eating with the wrong hand”. When she told the teacher she couldn’t eat with the other hand, she was told she was being defiant and she got lunch detention. I called the school and spoke with the principal and was advised that Heather was intentionally hitting elbows with the (right handed) boy next to her. I realized the biggest issue is that they make the kids stand in ABC order and file into the seats (12 on a side) and sit down. When I go into a restaurant or crowded dinner table, I always look for the spot on the far left. The teacher and I came up with a solution. Heather is now allowed to either be the first or last one on the row so that she doesn’t hit anyone with her elbow.  Oh…and the right-handed boy did NOT get lunch detention.
  10. Forcing someone to write with their unnatural hand is barbaric! Some people who have been forced to write right-handed have developed a stutter later in life. King George VI was one.
  11. I am leftie. At first, when in primary school, my teacher attempted to change my by force and my mum didn’t oppose it. I started well but at the point of forcing me to use right, my brain literally switched. I would write letters in mirrored forms or just twist them. At the end of my first year, my teacher reported I was a dull child but when my report was carefully checked, they realised it was because I was forced to use right. They allowed me use my blessed left hand to write but then I lost a year as I was forced to repeat a class.
  12. From Uganda – I felt this was really a valuable thought to us Left handed ones especially our Children that suffer persecution, rejection and abuse during their early days of Education because of being Left handed. I was traumatized and beaten by school teachers when I was young because I had totally failed to adjust and was writing with my Left hand.

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:

The original article “Teacher Training and Left handed Children”

Follow up article on initial feedback and comments

Detailed Comments on teacher training and left-handed children

Teacher experiences and lack of guidance
Positive comments on teachers and lefthandedness
Views that teachers should NOT provide special guidance for left-handers

Writing left-handed

Equipment problems (scissors, desks, computers, other items)

Forced change of hand

Advice and guidance to help lefthanders


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38 comments on “Forced Change
  1. Claire says:

    I was at infant school in the 60s. I would have my left hand tied behind my back, or a ruler was used to hit my left hand. Other children were told to report me to the teacher if they saw me write using my left hand.
    2 of my brothers are still left handed & never had any trouble. I was small for my age & a female which seemed to be their issue. My Dad, a left hander, laughed saying I had changed to use my right hand.

  2. Lisa says:

    When I was in second grade my teacher made me write with my right hand told me it wasn’t normal to use my left hand. My parents never came to my school and talk to the teacher or principal. They told me to do as I was told and I did. I can still write with my left hand,I make sure that its not lost for good. I don’t think anyone has the right to force a child to write with their right hand

  3. Shell Palmer says:

    My son is being forced to do right handed ticks (still with his left hand but the deemed correct way). He has just started year 6 and they have never done this before. He is quite upset as it hurts. Help!

  4. Cameron says:

    I’m left handed myself and I was never forced to change since I was born in 1993, the only things I do with my right hand are use scissors, play the guitar, bowl, and use a computer mouse, I do everything else with my left hand like writing, coloring, drawing, painting, pouring things, eating, drinking, shooting guns and bows and arrows, cutting things with a knife, stabbing, punching, holding a microphone, and using tools and weapons, even putting sunglasses on lol

  5. Charles R Prime faux says:

    I started school at 5 in 1942 the teacher made everyone in class write right handed , I was born left handed , my dad was left handed.I started having headaches and had headaches all during my school life. I started stuttering in about the 4th grade. I taught myself to speak better later in life.if I would have known better back then ,I would never have switched to right handed. I served 2 yes in the army.was a left handed shooter. Parents if your children are born left handed, don’t let them switch to right handed.

  6. FB says:

    When my daughter was in her reception years at primary school learning to write, she naturally favoured her left hand. However her teacher, who was quite old-fashioned had other ideas. After forcing my daughter to write with her right hand, she soon developed a stammer that I had not seen in her before. I then confronted the teacher who denied this and blamed it on me saying that I was feeding my daughter too much junk food (healthy eating is something I pride myself in!). Surprise, surprise when my daughter started to use her left hand again this stutter disappeared. This happened in 2009, which we had expected this type of left hand bias had been eradicated by then.