Monday, January 02, 2012

Southpaws no longer suspect?...

On NPR yesterday they had an interview with Rik Smits, author of a new book about lefties, The Puzzle of Left-Handedness. On the same web page you will find links to other interesting articles on the subject of left-handedness. I had an interesting conversation yesterday with a former craftsman friend who now manages computer systems, but keeps his hands engaged through a variety of hobbies. High manual efficiency is always a two handed thing with left and right each playing a designated part. For instance, as I am routing a small part with my right hand, I am picking up and orienting the next piece with my left. If I tried to do all my work with my right hand alone, I would only work at less than half the speed. We talked about how as craftsmen the integrated use of left and right was far more more important than which had took the lead. Left or right has only really become an issue in more modern times with the manufacturing of tools designed for a particular handedness, and in schools where teaching of writing to lefties by predominantly right-handed narrow minded teachers created difficult situations.

The article suggested that in China where they take a more integrated view of reality, (yin-yang) rather than only seeing it polarized left-right or right-wrong, being left handed is no big deal.

Research on bird brains is particularly illuminating in the areas of left and right. Animals That Favor One Side More Successful. Makes me wonder where we are going with our kids as we teach them to do little more than slide fingers over glass. This video presentation from Iain McGilchrist presents a rationale for a different approach to the education of our children.

The top item on wish lists for 6-12 year old children this holiday season was the iPod 2. We want smart devices that do cool tricks, but don't seem to understand the necessity of doing difficult things. Can it be that we are leading our children out of touch?

Make, fix and create...


  1. My Dad was one those told that being left-handed was evil, and he was forced to be right handed. Interesting though that Da Vinci was left handed... and appearantly, no one told him it was evil. No one even told him it was wrong to write backwards either. But writing backwards just kept the ink from smudging while writing backwards. Funny, I thought we were supposed to be smarter now.

  2. Our technology is smarter but sadly, people are not.

  3. I'm not a tool history person, so must ask: Are the vast majority of ancient and older tools known to be non-specialized, when it comes to handedness? (Including tools of war and music, of course.)

    Understand the QWERTY keyboard the majority of humanity uses favors the lefty; and it looked so fair-handed!

  4. I have some prehistoric stone tools that were found in some gravel that we had hauled as back fill around our house. They are obviously fitted to either left or right hand. So, yes, I believe they used handed tools, but if you made them for your own use, you probably didn't even thing of left or right at the time.

  5. Anonymous11:29 AM

    Good to hear we lefties are gaining some grudging acceptance. I use some tools left-handed and some right-handed, play baseball (or used to, anyway) right handed, and can switch hands when driving nails and one arm gets tired. Made sense to me.