Today is the International Left-Handers Day.
First observed on August 13, 1976, it promotes awareness of the inconveniences faced by left-handers in a predominantly right-handed world.
Research shows that about seven to 10 per cent of the world's population is left-handed.
Many of them have to adapt to use right-handed tools and objects, and the day’s objective is to spread awareness about the special needs of left-handed children.
As Kenya introduces the new Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC), the discourse of how this will affect left-handed people has once again come to the fore.
The CBC is designed to emphasise the significance of developing skills and knowledge and how to apply those competencies to real life situations. This means that the new system is modelled to give learners a practical experience in a specific field.
But does left-handedness affect how a learner acquires skills and knowledge, especially now that we are moving into a regime where more emphasis is on competencies as opposed to mere knowledge of the skills and attitudes?
Simply put: Is there a correlation between left-handedness and a person’s intelligence quotient (IQ).
Some people claim that left-handed people are more intelligent than their right-handed counterparts, but scholars have taken different positions on this.
Some scholars argue that left-handed people are more likely to have IQs over 140 vs right-handed people, while some studies hold that lefties are more likely to be schizophrenic, alcoholic, dyslexic, and delinquent; yet others have found out that lefties make up more of the extremely gifted and more of the severely compromised.
Righties fall in the middle. The intellectual discourse can go on and on, but left-handedness has continued to draw humanity’s attention for centuries.
What is not in dispute is that being left-handed has a major influence on one’s mental and physical development, which is why our educational experts need to factor in this group in their strategy.
Indeed, some researchers have argued that lefties have more brain symmetry than righties and better communication between the two sides of the brain.
This makes them faster at adapting to changing surroundings. It also aids in communication of new ideas to others.
In many parts of the world, there are still very strong cultural stigmas against left-handedness.
In some cultures, the use of the left hand is deemed disrespectful. Stories are told of parents forcing their left-handed kids to become right-handed.
In many Muslim parts of the world, in parts of Africa as well as in India and China, the left hand is considered dirty. It's considered offensive to offer that hand to anyone, even to help.
This discrimination against lefties goes back thousands of years in many cultures.
Amidst this unfortunate cultural reality, some of the most talented and influential people through history share this one trait that has given them incredible abilities in other ways.
In the past few decades, the US presidency for instance has veered more and more to the left – not in policy, but in handedness; with five of the last seven presidents being left-handed: Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Here at home, President Uhuru Kenyatta is left-handed.
Other lefties who achieved great things include Aristotle, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Sir Bobby Charlton, Oprah Winfrey, Isaac Newton, Julius Caesar, Bill Gates, Steve Forbes, David Rockefeller and former UK Prime Minister David Cameron.
The above list demonstrates that lefties seem to make exceptional leaders, inventors, artists, musicians and communicators.
We should therefore unleash the power and genius in our left-handed children by aiding their learning environment as the country moves to the CBC.
Happy Left-Handers Day!