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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Lefties specially gifted?

In the link below, Khushwant Singh has been musing over whether southpaws (left-handed people) are somehow genetically conditioned to be higher achievers than the rest of us, right-handed people, on the average:
(see the sub-title ‘Point to ponder’)

I have no problems with lefties; despite Singh’s reflections, I don’t think there’s sufficient hard evidence that they do have special and big inborn advantages, and at the same time I regret the still common fact that so many parents and schoolteachers (at least among the sort of Indians I know) imagine it’s some sort of defect and force children to master writing with their right hands – I think it’s a silly and quite unnecessary irritation for the children.

Given the way new (or recycled) myths/superstitions tend to catch on in this country (witness vaastu and feng shui and numerology etc etc), I fear that if too many people get to read (or, what is much more likely, to hear from their gossip circles, because Indians are not famed for being readers) stuff like Khushwant-ji’s article, a reverse custom of compelling right-handed children to practise being lefties so that they might improve their chances of becoming tycoons, presidents and other kinds of stars might spread like wildfire!


Rajdeep said...

This is a very thoughtful article. My own brother was made to write with his right hand though he is a left hander by a "great" and "wise" teacher. I am sure you will make out the meaning of those words. The problem is not about being left handers or right handers or which is better or more lucrative. I guess the problem is more that our parents talk too much and pretend to know too much but neither have the time or wisdom to find out which way their child is naturally and how to nurture that rather than do what the gossip around says!

Tanmoy said...

I never knew that these things happen where parents try and change the way their child naturally react. It is cruel to the say the least. When the film TZP released, it seemed most Indians for the first time came to know about Dyslexia. Interestingly, rather than finding whether their own child (or someone in the family) suffers from the disorder, people in India showed more interest in knowing which celebrity had dyslexia in his childhood!

However, here I see not just the parents but the schools have knowledge about such issues in a child. Not only that, the teachers counsel the parents on issues of child development and the parents too implement those advise. A teacher is regarded as a specialist and given that respect. Every school and most teachers invest time on each child. That is why a disorder such as Dyslexia amongst children is a common knowledge which gets cured too easily. May be that is one reason why TZP did not get considered for an Oscar since there are many such teachers helping many such kids. Who knows?

In Bengal try suggesting something to a child's parents on anything and they would revert back in rude manner. This has deterred me always to suggest anything constructive even to my cousins because more often than not, I have received rude replies.

In India, there is a perception that since Western parents get divorced, there are many single mothers etc, none care for the children. It is absolutely the opposite out here. Not only the parent, but the Government, school ensure that the child is taken care of. Offices have groups where parents get together to exchange notes. Those discussions are hardly on marks secured in classes!

That is why the children here, enjoy each phase of their upbringing - innocent childhood and rebellious adolescence. The parents also go on modifying themselves in consultations of the teachers, reading books etc as the child grows.

It is a myth that all Western kids become drug addict but it is not a myth that most Bengali children are under-achievers.

50 years back one could have blamed larger families, less money, less awareness but now it is sheer narrow-mindedness and apathy.

If I say a lot then some "concerned" parent would come and tell me - "amader bolcho keno, agey baba hoye dekhao tobe bujhbe.

Navin said...

Dear Sir,

I would just like to point out that while playing with left handers in any racket game I find it difficult to read them and their responses seem unnatural to me , whereas they find me absolutely normal to play with. For example giving a TT shot on ones backhand is usually one way to curb a good player but when there is a lefty it is his forhand and sometimes you have difficulty adjusting to the variation.

So I may very well believe that for racket games it might make sense if you are lefty as most people whom you play against are right handed. A lefty mostly gets to play against righties and so it is normal for him whereas for a righty it is a surprise.


Shilpi said...

I came back to this mini post because I've wondered off and on about this leftie versus rightie thing.

It would have been good though, wouldn't it be, if one could write with both the left and right hand with equal ease...? I know of one friend's father who had mastered writing with his left hand (when his right hand had been in a sling for just some weeks or so) and having known that I tried diligently and with great gusto during a month (if not more) preceding my B.A Part I exams. I simply wrote my diary with my left hand (so as not to spoil my good looking diary) I wrote in sheaves of loose paper. But I realised after much pain and rigour that I wasn't going to make it as an ambidextrous "hand-writer"...but I did write a fair bit still.

But don't they have all those studies saying that people who are lefties use the right side of their brain and that righties use the left part. But then I wonder what those studies leave out in terms of neuron firing networks and all. Hmm.

This is a nice post rather - serious and amusing - and I don't know remember why I didn't comment earlier (it feels good to see that it's tagged under both 'Humour' and 'Worldview').