Chilly morning of Jan 14th, Sankranti, the harvest festival celebrated across India, also saw the first day of the new academic year at Yadavindra Public School, Patiala. All staff assembled for the initiation into the new year with a magical and compelling workshop by me (Sreeni), E to the power of 6.
The light drizzle on the already foggy, cold morning, made all members of staff, over hundred of them, huddle inside the dance room of the middle school, that was equipped with hot blowers and heaters. I, with my personification of energy and child-like spirit, sent a shocker when I asked all of them to assemble in the well of the amphitheatre. They expressed quite a few reasons why they should not be in the rain. I wanted them to be children and not teachers, and do what children would do. Finally, with great reluctance, they made it to the well of the amphithetre.
They must have wondered what this crazy, monkish creature is up to. I could see the quizzical faces, and in the few smirks. A few shared that I looked like a musician. We all carry our own perceptions! for good of course 😉 What happened for the next hour or so, in the light drizzle (smiling sun peeping from behind the dark clouds at times) has been magical. The discussion that followed about the trust walk, made them realize a lot about what it means to be visually-challenged, being a facilitator to one, feeling of responsibility, the role of trust etc. etc…
The real import of the exercise dawned upon them, when I asked them to appreciate the situation of the child (ren) that they are guiding in the class, in the school or at home, to that of the visually challenged that they guided for a while, during the exercise. It was a bolt out of blue. A few were dumbstruck, quite a few very intensely lost, and a couple could not even fathom!
The whole of five hours passed by, with a few more exercises of self-introspection, each facilitating them to peal their own layers, each helping them to show the mirror for the participants to reflect and introspect. What was more heartening was that they did not want to leave without watching a few videos of lateral thinking on academic curriculum design and pedagogy. The session had to be extended beyond the time, at their insistence. Quite a few of the teachers and also the leadership team shared that, it was for the first time such a thing happened.
I had asked, the headmaster, Mr. Stanley Vinod Kumar and the coordinator, Ms. Sangeeta, a day before that I needed at least six hours to have a meaningful session. Stanley, with his sagacity and understanding of the mindset of the participants, asked me not to exceed four and half hours. He was delighted, so were the dean and the leadership, that teachers insisted on watching more and staying beyond.
As a facilitator, of course, I am always hungry for more. It is a ‘nasha’ – addiction – to facilitate more and more, for I always feel that I have not done justice to all that I wanted to facilitate, for the long travel that I undertook to conduct the workshop.
It was indeed a pleasure to be at this institution with about 70 years of legacy; the grand stadium that it is integral to, the rich sporting heritage with legendary alumni like Milkha Singh, Navjot Singh Sidhu etc to name a few. Got to know that their students this year also have won laurels in sixteen different sports at the national level.
The institution is keenly looking forward to becoming a full-fledged boarding school, that will enable them to make the whole environment an exciting 24 X 7 learning space. I too am looking forward to my next workshop at YPS, as much as Mr Stanley and the school leadership want me to.
I am waiting for the feedback forms to reach me from Bharat, the CL warrior at Patiala, who, in the first place, was instrumental in pulling me to the workshop at YPS. I am glad that Bharat did. It has been a very enriching experience learning during the workshop as well as visiting every nook and corner of the YPS, inhaling the air and imbibing the spirit of excellence it stands for!