Ramayana Translation Project
How long will it take you to accomplish your dream?
For Robert Goldman, distinguished professor in South and Southeast Asian Studies UC Berkeley and Dr. Sally Sutherland Goldman, senior lecturer in South and Southeast Asian Studies at UC Berkeley, the answer is “about 40 years.”
That is how long the Goldman’s toiled at the painstaking research required to complete the Ramayana Translation Project. The Ramayana is a Sanskrit epic, written nearly 3000 years ago, in which Prince Rama attempts to capture his wife. Of course, a one sentence summary can not do justice to a 50,000 line epic, that professor Goldman states, “Think the Illiad and the Odyssey and the Bible in one package, and you might get the sense of it.”
One of the main messages we can give our students is that accomplishments require tremendous effort-sustained, patient, effort. And that, as we learned from the great work of Walter Mischel and others through the Marshmallow Test- this habit of delaying our gratification for a greater reward is a skill that can be learned.
As the Wide Open Research community knows, I am striving to help educators share the great work of brilliant researchers like the Goldman’s, but also to help students learn how researchers chose the path they chose. Many students do not have access to individuals in their circle of family and friends who pursue advanced degrees. This lack of a robust network of highly educated individuals limits their access to those careers.
It helps to know that professor Goldman achieved his success not only through his intellect, but through hard work and by following his passion through choices he made along the way.
I am very grateful, for Dr. Robert Goldman for taking the time to answer a few questions about his “career” path.
Dr. Goldman shares how he started off in one direction, but like so many of us, changed paths to truly follow something that inspired him, “As a premed student in college I had a desire to learn as much about things of which I was utterly ignorant as I could. Since I was at a university (Columbia) that offered a wide range of subjects, I took a course on Asian (the called “Oriental”) civilizations. I became fascinated with the culture and history of India and changed my major to Sanskrit Studies.”
What are some skills that he learned that he believes teachers could help their students with?
Goldman states, “ The skills that this discipline taught me and should be taught as widely as possible are those connected with philology, that is to say, in essence, with learning how to read carefully and critically.”
It should be noted that professor Goldman did not really have a sense of pursuing his love of languages until sophomore year in college at Columbia.
I asked him if he would have done anything differently that might have benefited him and he noted,” Probably I would have taken the Latin course that was offered. But that might have set me on a different track than the one I took.
So, how do we as educators, help our students develop their intellect, and help them develop to their potential?
“Teachers need to excite students and inspire them with a love of learning. But to do so they themselves need to have it,“ according to Dr. Robert Goldman.
Here is hoping that we all have the energy to re-kindle that inspiration that brought us to the education profession in the first place- to put aside the data analysis, lesson plan curriculum cross-walks, the incessant standardized test preparation and love learning again.
For then, we will be able to help our students love learning as well.
Thanks to Dr. Goldman for his time to share his thoughts with our small blog and to the work of Robert and Sally Goldman for inspiring us through their 40 year journey in completing the Ramayana Translation Project.
In a perfect world, their accomplishment would be celebrated throughout the cities and villages, and their work would be given to every graduating senior in America with the admonition, “Learn, Read, Persist.”
But for now, we will simply say thanks. (And read the Ramayana Translation Project!)
Questions for Discussion
- Why does the Ramayana story still resonate today?
- How do we develop patience and perseverance as skills with our students?
- What about the work of Dr. Robert and Dr. Sally Goldman is inspirational to you?
- How do you develop the skills of philology as Dr. Goldman notes, “learning how to read carefully and critically?”
- What are you passionately learning “to excite students and inspire them with a love of learning?” as Dr. Goldman encourages?
- What else does this inspire you to “dream, learn, do?”
For a link to more info about the Ramayana Translation Project, please click here.
The Poetry of Robert Fanning
Of so many things.
A litany of images cascades from Central Michigan University professor and poet, Robert Fanning, in his mesmerizing poem, What is Written on the Leaves.
In the world of algorithms and big data, in which we are reduced to nothing more than our assemblages of profiles, browsing history, and followers, we are reminded once again of the very difficult task of being human. Poetry does this for us. And nothing humanizes us more richly than luminous poetry.
The poem, taken from his most recent collection of poems, Our Sudden Museum, published by Ireland’s Salmon Press (salmonpoetry.com), could be the voice of our wiser self, putting us on notice, that of all our accumulated sufferings and possessions, we are to “let go.”
Is it a command, a suggestion, or something else-maybe a refrain from the deepest blues song, that we are to lay down our weariness, our baggage, we are to “let go.”
But, what would we be without it?
Any reader who is looking for solace and inspiration today, should definitely check out Robert Fanning’s work.
I do believe teachers of creative writing and English teachers would find much to appreciate in this poem. Experience for yourself but I believe Robert Fanning’s accessible poem, What is Written on the Leaves, rich in imagery, rhythm and repetition would be suitable for older students.
An interesting thematic lesson might be to read Robert Fanning’s poem after reading Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. How do these two works complement each other?
Additionally, parents will find his poem, Watching My Daughter Through the One Way Mirror of a Preschool Observation Room especially poignant.
Questions for Discussion
- What is your first reaction to his poem, What is Written on the Leaves?
- What images connect with you?
- What are 3 poetic devices that Robert Fanning uses in the poem?
- How does the use of repetition of the phrase “let go” add to the poem’s meaning?
- Who is the speaker in the poem?
- Why is it essential to hear poetry spoken aloud, or to speak it aloud ourselves?
- What does this inspire you to “dream, learn, do?”