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Monday, March 09, 2009

Eleven Plus Luck

We were doing a little speed work last Saturday on completing multiple choice questions under pressure. The drills were simple – the last ten questions in eight minutes. It was an easy exercise – as the children were being urged to look for, and eliminate, answers that could not be right. The children were trying to get to a position where they had to select between only two questions.

One child was left handed. Left handed children hold their pens and pencils in a multitude of positions. Left handed children are not often noticeably slower than right handers but many factors come into account when the child is working on multiple choice papers – and the position of the writing hand is partly covering the answers.


I am fortunate to have a copy of Robert W. Service’s `The Rhymes of a Red-Cross Man’ published in 1916. There is a poem called `Grand-Pere’ which came to my mind when thinking about handedness.

And so when he reached my bed
The General made a stand:
“My brave young fellow,” he said,
“I would shake your hand.”

So I lifted my arm, the right,
With never a hand at all;
Only a stump. A sight
Fit to appal.

“Well, well. Now that is too bad!
That’s sorrowful luck,” he said;
“But there! You give me, my lad’
The left instead.”

So from under the blanket’s rim,
I raised and showed him the other,
A snag as ugly and grim
As its ugly brother.

He looked at each jagged wrist;
He looked but he did not speak;
And then he bent down and kissed
Me on either cheek.

You wonder now I don’t mind
I hadn’t a hand to offer . . .
They tell me (you know I’m blind)
`T’was Grand-pere J offer.

What ever we are – right handed, left handed or even ambidextrous – we are just plain lucky!

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