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Yadavindra Public School, Patiala, India

By Yvette Vignando - 9th August 2010

My last visit to a school in India was to Yadavindra Public School. It was with some surprise that, when researching for this post, I realised that the impressively-sized stadium that is part of the school, was built for the proposed 1938 Commonwealth Games - which ultimately, were held in my home town - Sydney. I'm glad I didn't know that at the time; I might have felt the need to apologise! My Google searches on the background to this change in venue have yielded nothing - I would be curious to know why the stadium was built in Patiala but not used?

Yadavindra has an interesting history- it is set on over 45 acres and was founded by His Royal Highness Maharaja Yadavindra Singh of Patiala. The Maharaja was an active sportsperson and international presence; his personal history includes acting as a United Nations and UNESCO Representative and ambassador to Italy. The co-educational school uses the English medium to teach and also offers boarding to some of its students. I can attest to the delicious cooking of the kitchen there as I was generously hosted for lunch in the boarding school's dining room. I especially enjoyed the super sweet mango for dessert.

But moving right along - you have heard of the phrase "a baptism of fire" - my visit to Yadavindra was more of a baptism of steamy hot, thick Punjabi air. I was so grateful to my 90 strong teacher audience who bravely listened and participated in the Emotional Intelligence in the Classroom presentation in spite of the arduous weather conditions. I realise that for the teachers, the weather was nothing unusual but it was their first day back at school so I really do think they deserved congratulations for listening to me when their hearts might still have been at home! I realise it was probably me suffering the most from the heat!

At this school, I sensed a strong community spirit among the teachers - I could sense it in their staffroom during morning tea and I could sense it among them as they sweated their way through my workshop. This one aspect must surely be a strength at this school. I felt that the audience particularly connected with the point I made about the critical importance of the teacher child relationship - one of the points I made was that a child having an excellent relationship with one adult at school is a key predictor of that child fulfilling his or her potential.

The teachers I spoke to at this school talked to me about the pressure for high academic achievement (often coming from parents), their commitment to also focusing on a child's "spirt" and body and their interest in international collaboration. They had recently farewelled a Chilean teacher who - I heard with admiration - had even mastered driving on Indian roads.

As I was driven back to Chandigarh I knew I had not even mentally mastered Indian roads - thinking that after two weeks I had become more relaxed about the anarchy of the traffic movements, I was soon jolted back to my ever-alert-and-alarmed state by an overturned lorry and several battered buses housed in make-shift shelters in villages along the way. Although grateful for the careful and safe driving of my host's driver, I was relieved to return to the wide and Canberra-like planned roads of Chandigarh, a city thoughtfully designed by French-Swiss architect, Le Corbusier. (His real name is  Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris - thank you Charles for Chandigarh's roads.)

Comments (1)

Annette Reuss's picture

1938 Olympic Games & Patiala

Hi Yvette
My research has yielded that Patiala was never in the bidding for the 1938 Commonwealth Games. That right was given to Sydney at the 1934 Games to coincide with Sydney's 150 years since the foundation of British settlement in Australia.

The Maharaja Bhupinder Singh (1891-1938) was the Maharaja of Patiala until his death in 1938. He was also the President of the Indian Olympic Association from 1928 to 1938. When he passed away his son was given the Presidents title. He was an extravagant man with a passion for expensive things, grand architecture and sport. He was responsible for many of the grand buildings in Patiala. He was a great patron of sports – hence the obsession with building sporting facilities. He also believed that Patiala would host the Commonwealth &/or Olympic Games at some stage which was why the stadium was built. Along with many other sporting facilities.

If you Google Maharaja Bhupinder Singh you will find some fascinating stuff about him. His relationship with Hitler, his obsession for Rolls Royces and his totally extravagant lifestyle.

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