Anything Left-Handed > Research > Survey on School Experiences

Survey on lefthanders’ school experiences

Over 1,000 Club Members have now completed the survey on left-handers’ school experiences and we want to thank you all for taking the time to share your stories. Our early analysis supports the evidence we were seeing in emails and from talking with members and customers that left-handers are still getting a far from equal service from their schools. Some of the statistics are quite worrying and we will definitely be on the campaigning trail soon to raise awareness among teachers on how to help their left-handed pupils.

We had a huge number of comments from people telling us about their own experiences in all areas of our survey. We have included a few examples in the main analysis and a link to a full page of each as we think others may find them instructive and it may reassure lefties who are having problems that they are certainly not alone.

See the full results and analysis of the survey here

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117 comments on “Survey on School Experiences
  1. Carolina says:

    My kindergarten years were a nightmare that still haunts me. I had problems with cutting and coloring. Teachers didn’t teach me, they ignored me because I did it with my left hand. And then, of course, I did it all wrong and colored outside the line. And then these horrible teachers sent me to the front of the class and showed my drawing and then told my classmates that I was the worst in the class, and they would all laugh. Then the teacher would rip my drawing to pieces and put it in the bin, right in front of me. I learned not to cry, but I didn’t learn how to color properly and I still can’t. I’ve had trouble ever since making acquaintances with classmates, because I always feel this will happen again. During later education, I’ve continued to color horribly, I still cannot do it. In college, I took a class where I had to draw and color maps, and it was a nightmare.

    I also have a lot of trouble with the benches. The palette is always on the right side, and when I sit crooked for hours, my left side hurts like hell.

    • Sonia B.-Inkster says:

      I am so sorry your school experience was so bad. I can relate to some of the humiliation – kindergarten, grade two and then again grade three until I learned to learn by myself.

      I am now in education, and am sad to say some of the issues persist – seating arrangements for one.

      As for colouring – ignore the lines. Your ability to visualize is more important than the need to stay within the lines. I colour over the lines sometimes, just to remind myself that it looks better that way πŸ™‚

      Happy healing to you

  2. manas says:

    Being left handed doesnt mean you can’t write neatly or use right handed things, it takes time, but we can adjust. Dear fellow lefties please take heart at the fact that many celebrities are left handed, though I understand that sometimes you feel like wringing other people’s necks. we must learn to channelise our gift in the right direction. I wish my left handed fellowmen and women the very best.

  3. Andrew says:

    i remember at junior school my class teacher said to me write with your right hand i said i can’t as i am left handed i don’t think the teacher understood but she still forced me to write a sentence with my right hand when the teacher saw the result oh you are left handed then!

  4. Emmy says:

    I always have struggled at school but now i have found my ways to deal with it and it has taken me nearly all my school life to do (only got one year left). I found that i would always smug my work and used to get told of for it so i ending up getting a special left handed pen. Another problem i found is if i was to sit on the right side of the table i would be putting my elbow into my friend’s face the whole time. So i always now have to sit on the left side of the table. They where the most annoying problems of cause i had the little things like no left handed hockey sticks or left handed baseball gloves. But i used to love it when all the right handed people run to get some right handed scissors while theirs me who just casualty walk because i know i will be able to get some left handed scissors. To be fair i love being left handed you get your ups and downs but who cares.

  5. Stephi Rose says:

    As a young child I always knew that I was different. When I was in elementary school i was diagnosed as an INJ (the T or F doesn’t really come into play until later). And on top of that I was a left handed girl in a right handed world. I remember being in pre-school and being told that writing with my left was wrong and that only “special” people do that. Still it didn’t stop me. My teacher used to ask me why I didn’t want to do the right (the irony is not lost on me) thing, and at four years old, I told her it was a part of me and that the right thing didn’t feel right to me.
    My parents, even though they are both right handed, were and still are very supportive of my lefty problems. They would buy me special paper, pens, notebooks and scissors. Although, I received support from my family, there were still other students at school who would ridicule me for being a lefty. I remember learning to write in cursive and being made fun of because they had to find someone on campus to teach me how to write left handed without smearing my writing. Even though there were bad experiences, when I got to highschool, I found that many more of my peers were left handed and sharedalot of the same experiences as I did.
    So all in all, some experiences were bad, most were (and still are) absolutely amazing. I wouldn’t give up being left handed for anything in this right world!

  6. Keith Levett says:

    I was born in 1950. Probably the worst school experience was whilst I attended my infants school, which was a Roman Catholic Convent School in south-east London. I had my left arm tied behind my back to make me write right-handed. I had severe headaches and eventually my mother found out, and took me to see our GP, who was also the school doctor. The practice then stopped.

    While at secondary school, which was a grammar School, it was nigley things, like the cricket kit had no left handed batsmans gloves, so you could often receive a painful blow to the back of your hand from the ball. Also, there were 4 of us lefties in my class, but only 2 left handed woodwork benches, so it was a rush to get to the woodwork room!

  7. Liz says:

    I’ve never had any problem being left handed. I was top of the class in hand-writing – both biro and ink pen, and I’ve always held the pen above my hand so that the hand rests on the next line down and I don’t smudge anything. I don’t remember being taught that but i was always surprised to see how some left-handers hold their pens. My brother is a leftie too but both our parents are right-handed. They never made anything of it and neither did we. I don’t remember any issues at all at school (in the 60s and 70s) either. I was always good at mirror writing! I use right handed scissors in my right hand and tend to use bats right handed but I always pick up any spoon with my left hand. I use a mouse with my right hand without thinking about it, although when my arm aches I switch to left. I’ve never tried anything made specifically for lefties. I work as a sub-editor and have noticed over the years that a lot of us tend to be left-handed.

  8. Dave says:

    Being left-handed is great. I can do things right handed but I don’t see why I should. Plus always having left handed school supplies and setup really discourages people from borrowing my things since most people are right handed. I’ve actually started buying lefty things to use. Sometimes when someone borrows my things they don’t know it’s all lefty and they feel awkward but they don’t know why. Basically my entire primary school years trying to use a pencil sharpener.

  9. Canaan says:

    My biggest issue was always scissors. I still hate scissors. I sometimes cut with my right hand but my over-whelming preference is to use my left hand. Main issues right hand scissors are hard to hold and also hard to use left-handedly. “Ambidextrous” scissors are easier to hold but still difficult to cut with because the blades are still right handed. Which is why ambidextrous is in quotations as they are actually right handed scissors with ambidextrous handles. Years of using right handed bladed scissors has and still tortures me. With newer scissors it doesn’t matter but I find older I find my self having to pull back as if I’m squeezing the blades together but right handed people don’t because they naturally push the blades together when they cut. This is an issue because although pulling back works it also hurts my hand after awhile. And it’s hard to see the line I’m cutting. I really wish things would stop being labeled left handed scissors when only the handle is left handed.

  10. Veronica says:

    I couldn’t use a nib ink pen as I bent the nib and left ink spots across my page.

  11. Alysa says:

    When I was being taught to write, my teacher told me to write from the opposite hand I write with toward the hand with which I write. I spent a year writing right to left, and most likely being falsely diagnosed with ADD because she taught me as if I were right handed. I did not learn well when I was younger because of set backs made by teachers who teach only for righties.

  12. Gigi says:

    I looooove being a leftie! It makes you stand out and be different. It wasn’t easy in school because even though we had some desks for lefties, there always seemed to be a rightie sitting at it! I think the hardest thing was learing to write left-handed with a right-handed teacher. My dad teases me that I do everything upside down. I am the only one in my family who is left-handed. I’ve always had to make adjustments. Thankfully, my experiences had made it easier to spot another leftie. I always tell them- us lefties have to stick together! By the way, you can also say that lefties think with the right side of their brains so that means we’re the only ones in our RIGHT minds! haha

  13. Karin says:

    I am a 6th grade math and science teacher and a leftie; I struggled through school like many lefties not really knowing what I was doing wrong. Now that I am older, I am trying to find strategies that will help left-handed students understand the math concepts. I have learned from some of your comments, great ideas. Does anyone else have any other math strategies they would like to contribute, especially when it comes to problem solving, fractions or number sense?

  14. Tom says:

    I’m still in school, 14, and I’m a south paw. I know people who are left handed, like my dad, and were taught to write as a Right hander would! But I didn’t, I thought back. You can’t conform, I’m being told that I will die early because on average left-handers die 9 years earlier than my right handed chums. So I came back with “at least I will earn more money than you over my lifetime JERK!” which usually shuts them up, and I love being different. I also have ADHD and most people accept me for that. But thara are those people who think they are better than you, don’t take it, fight back. I mean, I am stange because my Right eye is the stronger eye, I cut with my right hand, but I don’t care. It’s me, I use right handed items, and have recieved alot of injuries from right handed devices, but oh well, it’s life. Don’t conform and be yourself, people love you for who you are, I know no left-handed girls at my school. But I love left-handed people so much, they are SO free spirited, and thats it, sorry for the long comment, Don’t conform. Love who you are south paws! I love you ALL! Peace.


    • Deborah says:

      Do you know I do not know not one person who is left handed personally except for my self!! So leftys we are pretty cool!!

  15. Andrew says:

    I was the only left hander throughout my school years. I had real trouble because there was no left handed equipment around in those days.My teachers tried to get me to use my right hand but I always refused because it wasn’t natural for me. They gave up in the end and let me be. Now I am the father of 2 left handed boys aged 10 and 13 and they are also having trouble ar their school because it doesn’t know how to handle left handed children even though there are a few more around than when I was at school. I have bought them left handed pens and scissors to help them a bit with their schoolwork at home.

  16. Cristina says:

    I’m a Mom of three boys of 9,4and 2yrs old . The two elders are left- handed , the youngster we don’t know yet (he eats with both hands, and picks up things with both hands) . Me and my husband are right handed , and this left -hand stuff is really new for us ! My dad and my mother-in-law are left-handed , that’s where my lefty came! But as my father is older , he learned to write with his right hand(awful handwriting!) but and eats with his left hand ! My mother-in-law writes and eats with her left Hand , but uses the right-scissors (there was none left-hand stuff for her as a youngster !) And she is really very good in knitting, tricot and those fine handworks ! And see, sometimes she teaches me(right-handed) Tricot !
    At the table usualy we have 3 left handed ,4 right handed and 1 unknown ! And yes , many times my fork, knife and spoon dissapears ! Guess what ? My lefty picks it up ! But it’s Ok ,I’m accustomed !For all my life this was very tricky due to my lefty-dad ! Best Wishes from Rio de Janeiro city, Brazil ; for you all : lefty dealing with righties and righty dealing with lefties ! πŸ™‚

  17. Shannon D says:

    I was told that when I was younger some lady made a big deal of me being left-handed while at the dentist. My grandma who was with me at the time freaked out. She had told me that being left is a special thing, and tried to make it feel like a good thing. I have some lefty friends, and my brother is also left handed, and sometimes we talk about how using right handed stuff is weird/hard. Sometimes my right-handed friends would join and ask why it is so hard, so I’d tell them to do it left-handed (expecially scissors). That’s when they understood. Another thing is that I got my nick name (Southpaw) in marksmanship do to the fact that I am a lefty. However I have also ran into people who are mean. They say if I mess up it’s because I’m a lefy. Someone else tried to find out how people become left-handed and they found a site that says you have to have a brain disorder. So now according to him I’m mentally retarded. But other then that one person who has issues with lefties, I am proud to be a lefty and don’t mind be part of that 10%

  18. Lilyan F says:

    Hi my name is Lilyan but everyone call me lily for short . But all my life for me growing up i look around and i see all right handed people around me . For all the right handed people have it so easy . But when it come to us left handed people we have it hard . because you see us sitting at a end of the table all the time we can sit next to someone who not a left handed person. In my family there are more right handed them left handed people . there probably i when to say me and my cuz and my aunt and grandma are the only one that are left headed in are family . in my house . I’m the only left handed in the house . my mom and dad my sister and brother all right handed . i always feel odd or out of place at time and when I’m at school i still feel the same . I same time get made fun of cuz my left handed and i always have people watching how i do thing . like how i write or cook or bake and i thing it really wear they watching and it creep me our after time . it been so hard for me growing up because there really nothing out there for us instill now .

    • Priya Mahesh says:

      Dear Lilyan
      Am from India, I too had the same inconvenience as you have now. But as the days pass and as i grow it started setting me..Now an 26 years old, working as a lecturer.People will always see different things. Later, you can feel you are special and mindy. take care..blessings

    • Colin Scott Maxwell says:

      I am a “lefty” and it may be the greatest gift I have ever received. I see things differently, I do things differently and I am truely unique. I see soulutions that most people (righties) never see. Embrace differences and enjoy the different eyes and hands you get to see the world with.

  19. Jezzyka says:

    I really hate it when everything in school is right handed. its really tough to adapt to these sorta things. i also hate the fact that righties call lefties ditzies or bimbotics!

    • Lilyan F says:

      yea i know it really hard when your the only one who left headed . then like a teacher make sign set make you sit next to a right hand person and you cannot really do nothing cuz you always hitting each there when you write or do thing . i know how you feel .

    • Marek says:

      And I’m one of those “lefty bloggers” who wrote that post. Lisa and I had a good laugh at the music slteceion.But I notice you didn’t challenge anything factual about the post so I’ll just report that you agree with our assessment of the event.Thanks!

  20. Emma L says:

    My 9 year old daughter is a lefty, but my husband and I are right-handed. We have been watching her closely to see how she adapt to daily tasks like eating, reading, writing etc. She uses her folk in the left hand comfortably, but struggles wth her knife in her right (obviously eating right-handed). However if she switches she cuts better with the knife in her left hand, but struggles with her folk in her right?? Her writing is beautiful, although joining up she says is tricker and makes her writing look messy. Just a month ago she started group 11+ tutoring at a private school where they are taught to think differently (problem solving style). The tutor said they get them to think differently not to be clever, but smarter. She always feels like she’s not as clever as the kids in her class at school, but in the tutoring session she says she finds she knows the answers more. Her friend she goes with has commented that she is really clever in tutoring class, but not as clever at school?? Do any of you lefties out there have any idea why this is and can you share you experiences. My daughter lacks a lot of confidence at school, although it’s apparent she can do it taught another way. Can you help me to understand how she feels and share your experiences or offer me some advice – thanks.

    • Sarah says:

      Could it be that your daughter is dyslexic? This might explain why she is responding better to this different way of teaching. There does seem to be a link between left-handedness and dyslexia. Our daughter, who is 14, is left-handed and dyslexic, two out of three of her half-brothers are also left-handed and dyslexic. School can be a real struggle for her and she lacks confidence particularly in English and Maths but following an assessment for dyslexia several years ago she now gets a lesson of learning support a week and also extra time/less questions in tests/exams. I am right-handed and don’t always appreciate how she has to adapt to using right-handed equipment at home or in school. She never complains and just gets on with it but I have spotted some handy things on the online shop to surprise her with.

    • Helen H. says:

      Emma, I am a lefty and both my parents were right handed, as were most of the people around me, growing up. It did not occur to me that I was overcoming obstacles unfamiliar to others but that some things felt awkward and required more effort. My mother taught me to use scissors in my right hand, simply because it was easier for me to be effective with them. She also had a left/right potato peeler. She made every effort to assist me where she could but regardless there were some things I was better at than others. For example, I was not proficient with needlework and whenever anyone tried to help me (a right hander) it was always upside down and I had to turn it up the right way and carry on, so “help” was not much help. It would have been nice to have received instruction from a left hander. There were other skills like crocheting and knitting that never held any interest for me because of the logistical challenges learning from right handers like my mother and teachers. The school made no effort to recognize or accomodate left handedness, in fact my mother recalled a open evening where the teacher made a comment about my less than stellar handwriting and when my mother said it was n’t bad for a left hander, the teacher was unaware that I was left handed. Unlike your daughter I was not good at handwriting. My joined up or cursive handwriting was very poor, due in part to learning to write with a pen and nib, so dragging the back of my hand through the newly crafted writing.

      I have not percived left handed as a negative, but instead made me more independant and good at tasks that required problem solving because every task I encountered required problem-solving!

      I had trouble cutting food on my plate with a knife and devised a method of holding a slice of meat with my fork in the left hand and used a pulling/cutting technique to “cut” it. I used this technique until the muscles of my hand were strong enough to use the knife as it was designed. My parents did buy me a small size knife and fork set which really helped. Bread was easier – but I use a bread knife or large knife (to cut a joint of meat) in my left hand. I was not particularly “clever” in my junior years but by the time I was twelve or so, when I started doing more challenging mathematics and science (problem solving type subjects) at school. We moved and I changed school areas when I was eleven, going from a comprehensive area to an area where the eleven plus was still used, so was given an IQ test to determine where I should be placed. The head teacher from the junior school thought, since I placed in the middle of my class that I was secondary school versus grammar school material, but my IQ test scored very high, much higher than the position in class indicated. I am not/was not dyslexic. In spite of the less than stellar start, I ended up with 9 O-levels, three A levels in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry and a joint honours degree in Geology and Chemistry. I am a Professional Geologist specializing in water supply. My only reason for telling you this is that I work with a very high percentage of left handers – if I think back over my career, it is probably about 50%, so it is a matter of your daughter finding out her interests and where she excels and just doing it – and for her parents to realize that it might be off the beaten track! I was pretty shy at school which could be lack of confidence but later successes and strong support from parents really were important.

      Hope some of this might be helpful. I am sure that it is a challenge for RH perents with a LH child. From my experience, it was not a negative but a positive. Interestingly I have learnt a lot from this website and the Left Handers articles and they have helped me realize some of the challenges I have – like hugging, for example! Regards, Helen

  21. Julio P says:

    I remember when i was learning how to write in cursive, my teacher and mother were both perplexed because i would write with my left hand angled at almost a 45 degree angle. I was actually trying to recreate this, but i now find it quite uncomfortable. Anyways, my teacher’s solution was that i angled my paper to keep my hand straight. And to this day, i still angle my paper…must be habitual.

    The fact that I was left-handed was no shock to anyone. Both my father and mother are lefties. Even my younger brother is left-handed. I do sympathize with a few of these other lefties who went to catholic school, however. I went to catholic school for 1st and 2nd grade, but luckily, my teacher was a saint (figurative) and i was never corrected like some of these lefties were.

  22. franka says:

    my father has 5 brothers and sisters all right-handers!
    everyone has one child left-hander!!! it is weird and funny! i hope my child will be a left-hander just like me <3

  23. shari says:

    As a child, I tried to use my right hand,and one day my dad suggested I try using my left hand(this was back in the early sixties),and I was so comfortable that my parents became my advocates in my left-handedness. I am the only left handed person in my immediate family. All of my daughters are right handed. Like all left handed individuals, I have to sit on the outside when eating with friends,if not I bump elbows with the person sitting next to me.
    Learning to crochet, was a challenge I had to sit in front of my grandmother in order to learn, that wasn’t a problem because my grandmother was very patient in teaching me.
    I have to say that being left handed hasn’t been a problem, I adapted with learning to use scissors, and such. Learning to write was not that hard, and I am told that my handwriting is really nice.

    • Lilyan F says:

      i know how you feel . when get to a holiday family all get together i have to remind my family I’m left headed so i have to sit on the end of the table . after tell them they all look at me and say oh ok i so forgot about the okay . what do the do sit me next to some who right headed . so i always eat with my elbows in it make it even harder to eat but it work one way or anther lol

  24. Jim says:

    At my rural school , my first grade teacher tried to switch me in to a right hander by hitting my left hand with a ruler. i didnt understand why. so when i started to studder, my mom asked me questions . So i told her the teacher was hitting my hand and slapping me on the back, for using my left hand. needless to say shit hit the fan. yep still a lefty and though as hell.

    • Clo says:

      OMG, I thought I was the only one who got “knuckled” for being a lefty. When I was in Catholic school, a had a nun – I will never forget that old bat -used a yard stick on me if she couldn’t reach me. My knuckles looked like I was scraping the floor. Like your mother, my mother reacted the same way. In Catholic school – “the devil is on your left shoulder and your guardian angel is on your right shoulder” – therefore, she tried to beat the devil out of me! My mother beat the devil out of her. No one messes with a Sicilian mother. This was back in the early 50’s. I studdered, too and couldn’t read in front of a class. Those nuns were sadists. My sister is left-handed and my two nephews are left handed. Out of 7 people in my department, only two are right handed. Needless to say, we think the two are the odd ones!

  25. leBenavente says:

    My mom, my sister, my uncle and I are lefties and in my country in South America, “zurdos” (lefties) are underestimated. I went through a lot of pain when I grew up including being hit by using the “wrong hand” or “evil side of human” but even with the beatings and punishments I use my left hand. When I was in high school, the gym teacher put me as the pitcher in baseball. I and my friend were left-handed (she was a pitcher too) and we were blessed because when the opposite team players tried to hit the ball, they were unlucky. That only happened when my friend and I pitched. In one occasion I was throwing the ball with my left and caugh it with my right-hand baseball glove when my dad saw me. He was furious with me and told me that lefties were not allowed in the family. I still did not listened to him so as a result I went to live to my own apartment. My fiancee is right-handed and he does not care if I am lefty. Lefties are intelligent since I was a valedictorian and I still being smart. I am going to college for four majors and four minors and I have over 60 awards, diplomas and outstanding achievements.

    • guedes says:

      In Peru people used to see lefthandedness as a good sign: “In ancient Peru, it was believed by the Incas that being left-handed was a sign of good luck”.

  26. Angela says:

    I had a very old fashioned kindergarten teacher. Although she didn’t make me switch hands, it was hard to do lessons and such. I already knew how to write because my mother (Mom of three lefties) taught me. My teacher continued to try and change the way I wrote, apparently I did it wrong, until my mom went in and fought for my right to be a lefty. I’m now in high school and still have trouble when it comes to binders and notebooks (Just a thought, left handed loose leaf paper). I still can’t cut anything in school, I bring it home and my mom cuts it for me (She’s a righty). My school refuses to get left-handed scissors, and some of my teachers are jerks to me when I say I can’t cut anything out. The desks are a pain since they are designed for righties, and I always have to sit on the end of the bench when eating in school. Although this might be the wrong area to put this, I also work as a waitress, and find it extremely difficult when giving people their water and silverware to put everything on their right side, because I automatically go for my left side. I guess living in an opposite world is just something us lefties have to put up with. Although I have trials, I LOVE BEING LEFT HANDED!!!!

  27. Jade E. says:

    I’m a lefty and I always bother people by shoving my right hand onto their paper. I also smear my work. In gym, we only have righty stuff and I’m a real klutz there. But I love my left-hand! πŸ˜‰

  28. Alex says:

    At school, we have these weird desks, whereas the top part you write on would either be on the left or right side. So me, a lefty, has a right handed desk, and it’s SO hard to deal with!! I even got so desperate, that I tried writing right handed. And I turned it in that way! I got it back the next day with a C-. My teacher talked to me about and ordered a new left handed desk just for me and changed my grade!!! Then this other guy did the same thing. But he’s right handed. Hmmm…

  29. Patric says:

    I am the only left handed person in a family of seven, both parents are right handed, so even in the family I struggled. In school, being Catholic, I was forced to sit on my left hand as the teacher saw me as outsider until my mother decided to discuss the matter with her. Secondary school was split between between here and Ireland. Once again teachers were very indifferent to my left handeness. At home, one of the chores was to set the table, guess which way everything went and yes at the start of the meal they all had to swap their knives and forks around, now that I am married with children they know who laid the table for lunch or dinner.
    At times being left handed makes you feel you are in a room full of strangers with no real understanding. since a child I have always enjoyed being in a social situation but as I grew into adulthood, I feel better with my own company. I think it helps me with my writing, which again something I have done since five or six years old, short stories, poems, novels and scripts. I have an empathy for all my characters, good or bad, male or female, has this something to do with being left handed. Eveything lies on a shelf in the cupboard, because of the self doubt that I will write something better, always pushing myself for a better piece of work.
    At work, people laugh at my ability to use the mouse in the right hand and write in the left hand at the same time.
    Even now I sometimes feel uncomfortable being left handed, my children always pointing it out and my wife’s frustration at the way I do things in the kitchen.
    I am not special and I don’t feel special because I am handed, it is just that everything is the wrong way around for me.

  30. matthew says:

    i hate it when i am in class and the person to the left of me keeps hiting elbows with me because i am left handed and she is right handed. it really would make us both upset eventually we went to the teacher to see if we could get moved and she let us change seats now we can both write fine