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You Asked (12-05-2009)

Update: May, 11/2009 - 00:00

You Asked


Dear Editor,

I was surprised to learn from my Vietnamese friends that some Vietnamese schools discourage their pupils from writing with their left hands and even force left-handed children to use their right hands. Every time they use their left hands, they get a whack from the teacher.

Is this just an urban legend or is there any truth to it? If yes, why? What is the historical background of such a strange restriction on pupils? We are in the 21st century and such closed-mind practices should be stopped.

Harry Dickson

Dear Harry,

The Ministry of Education and Training has never promulgated any regulation prohibiting pupils from using their left hand for writing, according to Le Tien Thanh, head of the ministry’s Primary Education Department.

Thanh said that if teachers forced left-handed pupils to write with their right hands it was their own decision.

In reference to the historical background of the restriction, Thanh said most Vietnamese were right handed and families and teachers encouraged children to use their right hands.

Cultural researcher Huu Ngoc said in Vietnamese culture, individuals were programmed to follow the mainstream.

He said that in his childhood, he had never seen any one writing with their left hand. "Everyone held their pen-brush and chopsticks in their right hand," he said.

According to Dr Nguyen Thi Kim Dung, a researcher at the Education Reserach Institute, some schools and teachers did restrict left-handed students, but she did not support the practice.

Hoang Hoa, the mother of a left-handed son, wanted her boy to write the way he wanted. However, when he was at pre-school, her son’s teacher advised her to instruct him to use his right hand or he would have big difficulties at primary school.

Hoa consulted her friend, a teacher at a renowned primary school in Ha Noi, and received the same advice.

Hoa’s son, who is in second grade, now writes well with his right hand and performs other tasks with his left hand. — VNS


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