By Paul Salahuddin Armstrong
My Dad, Richard Kevin Armstrong suffered as a result of misguided beliefs around left-handedness that were still strong in Britain during the 1950s and 1960’s.
When Dad was at school, he was told not to write with the “devil’s hand”. So ignorant was the education system at that time… This was a factor in Dad’s childhood, that contributed to messing up his education, he left school with no qualifications at only age 15.
But not one to quit, my Dad secured an apprenticeship managerial course at a grocery store chain in Birmingham called George Mason. Grocery stores were like small to medium-sized supermarkets and sold a similar range of products before supermarkets came to dominate the sector.
Dad worked very hard in his new job and studied in the evenings, he achieved a City & Guilds in Management equivalent to 2 A-Levels. Simultaneously, Dad was training to be a radio DJ and was offered a job at BRMB, a popular commercial radio station in Birmingham at that time.
My Dad was a highly intelligent man, as is obvious from his achievements after leaving school, but the way the school system was set up during the 1950’s and 1960’s frustrated his potential instead of cultivating it. Ignorant beliefs around left-handedness were not the only factor, but they significantly contributed to harming his education.
Dad was fortunate to get an amazing opportunity to study for a City & Guilds upon leaving school, but I wonder how many left-handed children didn’t get opportunities like this and left school with no qualifications or qualifications that didn’t reflect their true potential.
I wonder too whether there are still children in this situation living in other countries that haven’t yet discarded medieval superstitions around left-handedness even today.
This account is a reminder of the dangers and harm that can be caused by primitive superstitions and ignorance. Especially when people who hold such beliefs are in positions of power. Truly, there is no substitute for education and basing our beliefs and systems upon logic, reason, and good sense.