School For Ambidexterity

Status: Highly suspect
According to an article in, the Veena Vadini school in Singrauli, India teaches its students to write with both hands, at the same time. And that's not all:

All these students are able to write simultaneously with both their hands. Trained from the early days at their school, these 72 young students are today at comfort with this rare art. They are also fluent in a number of languages.
Virangat Sharma, the principal of the school said that all his students are proficient in this art, which was started as an experiment. “The children are taught six languages Hindi, Urdu, English, Roman, Sanskrit and Arabic,” says Sharma. “I read somewhere that India's first President Dr. Rajendra Prasad used to write in two languages I also preferred to experiment developing such a skill among my students. All the children here can do this and also know the world's capital cities and their tables up to hundred. They can write on two different subjects and in two different languages at the same time,” says Sharma. Not just that these children can write with both their hands but they can also write in two different languages on two different subjects at the same time, tells Sharma.

Wow. And I thought my ability to write backwards in ancient Greek while doing a one-arm handstand and juggling two balls with my feet was impressive. Needless to say, I'm highly suspicious of the principal's claims. (Assuming that he exists and wasn't misquoted by a reporter.) The same story is also reported by ananova, adding to its credibility (note: sarcasm). I did a search for "Veena Vadini School" to see if they have a website, but only found links to this article about their instruction in ambidexterity. (Thanks to Kathy for sending me the clipping.)

SicTim (posting in the comments) remembered that Ripleys had once featured some cases of amazing ambidexterity. Checking the Best of Ripleys volume on my bookshelf, I found these examples. On the left, Lena Deeter of Conway, Arkansas, who "could write with both hands simultaneously — backwards, forwards, upside-down, even upside-down backwards! She could write in a different direction with each hand simultanously." (She appeared in a Ripleys cartoon on April 1, 1942... I assume she wasn't an April Fool's joke.) On the right is "a 1936 Dallas Odditorium performer [who] could draw three different cartoons simultaneously — with both hands and a foot!"

These cases indicate that it might be possible for someone to write in two different languages at the same time, but I'm still doubtful that an entire school could be trained to do it.

image image

Body Manipulation

Posted on Sun Mar 12, 2006


Bah.. kids these days have it soft.. Why in my day, we had to learn to type eighty words a minute, with our feet, write calligraphy with our eyebrows, spoke only in binary code, and memorize Pi. All of it. For recess, we got to take a break and defy gravity.
Posted by Bobcat  on  Sun Mar 12, 2006  at  02:11 PM
^^I thought there was something odd about the students in the school across the road from ours...just couldn't quite put my finger on it...
Posted by Owen  on  Sun Mar 12, 2006  at  02:32 PM
If I recall, the place I "read somewhere" about the man who could write in two different languages; on two different subjects; one with each hand, was in a "Ripley's Believe It Or Not" paperback.
Posted by SicTim  on  Sun Mar 12, 2006  at  03:13 PM
Good memory, SicTim. And yeah, after checking the Ripleys book on my shelf, they do have some cases like that in there. I'll post the examples in an update.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Sun Mar 12, 2006  at  05:47 PM
I consider Ripleys a very reliable source, not sure why, but I do. I can write upsidedown and backwards, but I can't with both hands at once. (and I can't write cursive, weird eh?)
Posted by Dracul  on  Sun Mar 12, 2006  at  07:05 PM
So are these kids actually writing about what they are thinking or have they memorized paragraphs of text and then reprodcue them like a picture? Anyone can draw with both hands at the same time, especially if both hands are working to create a large portrait. Instead of a picture or abstract designs, could the kids just have been taught a slice of various languages but not understand what the text means, only that it should be reproduced. Sure they can "write" in two languages, but can they speak them? Do the kids know what they are writing, or are they just copying from memory? If this is an actual skill will it mean bureaucrats will be able to write twice as much needless and destructive regulation?
Posted by Lonewatchman  on  Sun Mar 12, 2006  at  08:39 PM
Wasn't one of the former US presidents supposed to be able to write Latin with one hand while writing in Greek with the other? I think it might have been James Garfield.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Sun Mar 12, 2006  at  11:26 PM
I sat near a bloke in physics lectures who, when taking notes, would start the line with his left hand and write forwards while at the same time with his right hand, start at the end of the line and write backwards, and meet up perfectly in the middle. Sadly I don't know his name so my story can't be verified. Actually it was kind of spooky. I didn't know the bloke so i never found out how he went in the exams.
Posted by Bern  on  Mon Mar 13, 2006  at  05:22 AM
I'm right-handed. I can mirror my cursive writing left-handed, but NOT at the same time I'm using the right-handed method. I've been able to do this as long as I can remember. People always said it was strange, but after reading Bobcats post, maybe it wasn't so strange after all.
Posted by Christopher in Joplin, Missouri  on  Mon Mar 13, 2006  at  05:43 AM
Accipiter - I was thinking it was Jefferson, but according to Wikipedia, you're right -- it was Garfield.
Posted by Jeff  on  Mon Mar 13, 2006  at  07:25 AM
Wow! Thanks for the mention on your site, Alex. I will treasure it forever.

The one I saw was in cartoon form, though, and was definitely a man. I believe it was Latin with one hand and Greek with the other, but it wasn't Garfield.

I'm going to try and get on the trail.

By the way, one of my goals is to visit all of the Ripley's museums. The one in the Wisconsin Dells has something that will be both fascinating and utterly repellent to film buffs and true crime fans alike -- but I'd never ruin the surprise.
Posted by SicTim  on  Mon Mar 13, 2006  at  08:44 AM
My memory is faulty, it appears. It probably was Garfield.

Now I just have to make the Ripley's connection. Part of the problem is that there was a famous"Ripley's cartoon from 1934 about the "presidential death curse."
Posted by SicTim  on  Mon Mar 13, 2006  at  08:55 AM
I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous!
Posted by Joe  on  Mon Mar 13, 2006  at  12:55 PM
Ah, ambidexterity, the long sought-after skill. I'm one of the lucky few who are ambidexterous, and it comes in useful when multitasking (its always fun being able to play video games against yourself). Still, it poses problems of its own. If I am told to turn right, I hesitate until I remember what side my right is. Still, ambidextarity makes for great tricks at parties.
Posted by Draconegia  on  Mon Mar 13, 2006  at  03:56 PM
What, exactly, is the "Roman" language? I'm pretty sure the ancient Romans spoke Latin... if he's talking about modern Romans, I guess they'd speak Italian.
Posted by Seamyst  on  Mon Mar 13, 2006  at  07:36 PM
Was just about to say that, but seamyst beat me to it. Roman???
Posted by Razela  on  Mon Mar 13, 2006  at  10:24 PM
What do they speak in Romania?
Posted by Bern  on  Tue Mar 14, 2006  at  02:45 AM
Posted by Tru  on  Tue Mar 14, 2006  at  10:05 AM
Maybe "Roman" is a misprint for "Romany," the language of the Roma (Gypsy) people, which is related to Sanskrit, Hindi, and Urdu. Or maybe the principal means Latin. I can't think of a good reason children in India would be taught Rumanian. Or, of course, maybe the school doesn't exist.

Hindi and Urdu, by the way, are either very similar or the same language (called Hindi in India and Urdu in Pakistan), depending on whom you believe. Which calls to mind the old linguists' proverb, "A language is a dialect with an army behind it."
Posted by Big Gary in Ponder, Texas  on  Sat Mar 18, 2006  at  04:16 PM
Urdu is basically Hindi with a lot of Persian influence added in. Hindi speakers and Urdu speakers can understand each other in a similar manner to the way that people from England can understand people from America. In grammar, syntax, and vocabulary they are nearly the same.

In areas where Hindi and Urdu are both common, they get mixed together and are sometimes called "Hindustani". Throughout the entire Indian-Pakistani region, even in what is considered to be proper Hindi or Urdu, little bits of the other language slip in every now and then. Pure Hindi and Urdu is mainly confined to classroom grammar books and formal events.

Written Urdu and Hindi, though, are about as dissimilar as two languages can be. Hindi is written in the Devanagari alphabet from left to right, while Urdu is written in the Arabic alphabet from right to left. You can speak both languages fluently and write Hindi, yet still be unable to read the most simple Urdu sentence.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Sat Mar 18, 2006  at  08:21 PM
One of my grandmothers can write with both hands at the same time reuslting in what is essentially a mirror image of whatever she writes. I thought it was interesting when I first saw it and wasn't aware of other examples. I can at least confirm that it can be done - in English at least.
Posted by Peench  on  Tue Mar 21, 2006  at  11:32 AM

I don't know about those Indian kids - that sounds pretty fantastic. The difficult part is not the actual writing with both hands, but rather, dividing your conscious attention between two different subjects. I can do exactly what Lena Deeter did, easily. But I think it helps that I am primarily left-handed. What that means is that, when I start with my two hands together and slowly bring them apart as I write, my right hand gets to write the word forward, while my stronger hand has the task of writing the word backwards. Another way of looking at it is that the brain is very good at synchronizing the movements of your two hands to make them act as mirror images. If you can practice at writing your name, for example, well enough with your right hand, you then simply add the left hand, not concentrating so much on writing of the word as on mirroring the movement of the right hand. It feels almost automatic. I can also write upsidedown with my left hand while simultaneously writing upsidedown and backwards with my right hand. When you think about it too much, you will commonly make mistakes such as writing p's or d's backwards. Hope this helps!
Posted by Stephanie  on  Fri Aug 11, 2006  at  09:50 PM
Hi, I can also write forwards and backwards at the same time. My left hand writes backwards, in cursive, while my right hand writes forwards, in cursive. I can write you anything i can write forwards, backwards...if you need proof i can show you 😊 I am a 23 yr old nursing student
Posted by Miranda  on  Tue May 08, 2007  at  03:20 AM
hi ambidexerity is the only way evolved to use 2 hands 2 forces and 3rd resultant force on 1 body
Posted by blake  on  Thu Mar 04, 2010  at  02:57 AM
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