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Life as a leftie - world day marks the benefits and blues

LEFTIES can rejoice on Tuesday as their daily plights of smudged writing and scissor difficulties are recognised.

But there is a serious side to International Left-Hander's Day, with lefties campaigning for more support and resources in education.

"Schools all over the country are generally under-resourced in meeting the needs of their left-handed students," Steve McGuirk, managing director of Sydney based store Lefty's, said.

The shop and resource centre is an advocate for left-handed people and provides support and information for parents and teachers.

About 10% of the population, according to the Victorian government's Better Health Channel, is left handed.

All of our instruments use both hands, so they (students) have to develop technique on both hands

"Simple items such as left-handed scissors and writing materials for left-handers are frequently not available or else they are being purchased by parents for their children to use at school," Mr McGuirk said.

The advocate said new national curriculum does not cover handwriting or left-handedness.

"Teachers must have the knowledge, skills and tools in the classroom to help all of their students," he said.

"Without this, the children struggle with their learning and development right from the start."

But Gladstone State High School music teacher Angie Clifton said she hasn't found left-handers to be disadvantaged.

"All of our instruments use both hands, so they (students) have to develop technique on both hands," she said.

"So it doesn't really matter if they're right or left handed."

Ms Clifton feels that teachers are generally accepting of left-handers.

"I think it is more out there now," she said.

"There's none of that you should change it (attitude). It's more like 'alright let's see what you can do'."

The way students are taught is constantly changing as technology continually updates.

It also means students are writing less and using computer mouses and keyboards more.

"Everything is going to the computer" Ms Clifton said.

"General writing skill is pretty poor I think generally because no one writes.

"So that whole left hand smudging, I don't think that's going to be as much of an issue now."

The day has been celebrated since 1976.

What students say about being a leftie

THE world is not easy for the left-handed.

Simple daily tools that work naturally for the general population like cameras, golf clubs, power tools and corkscrews can be a challenge for left-handers who are not ambidextrous.

Left handed students Alisha Benson, Tish Smith, Zahra Lawson, Mikeal Bobart, Nick McKenzie.
Left handed students Alisha Benson, Tish Smith, Zahra Lawson, Mikeal Bobart, Nick McKenzie. Brenda Strong

But it's not all bad with some definite benefits to being a left-handed, if you believe the science.

"We actually use both sides of the brain for every act we do so technically we're smarter," Gladstone State High School student Letitia Smith, 17, said.

The majority of the population is right-handed and 12-year-old Zahra Lawson notices the difference.

"It's a bit strange sometimes, I'm pretty much the only one in my class," she said.

"I'm pretty much ambidextrous because I can do a few things with my right and a few things with my left."

The brain's right side controls the left hand and tends to be associated with emotions and music with lefties considered more creative.

"I'd love to think that," Zahra said. "I like to be."

Leftie facts

  • Tony Abbott, leader of the right leaning Liberal Party, is a leftie.
  • Most children are clearly right or left-handed by the age of three.
  • Lefties can have a sporting advantage, taking the right-handed opponent by surprise.
  • 3,000 words in English can be typed entirely with the left hand. Only 300 words are entirely right-handed.
  • In the past, children who were naturally left-handed were encouraged or forced to use their right hand.
  • No research has been definitive on why people are left-handed.

Topics:  editors picks, education, gladstone state high school



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