I found out that there are students who are about to graduate with a Major in Spanish, and they never took any Spanish courses with anybody except me. I’m effectively their entire Spanish major even though since 2020 I teach half of what everybody else teaches.
It works out because the most successful students are the ones who trust the teacher enough simply to do what they are told. In Beginner Spanish, I have to spend time to fight the resistance to the teaching method. That’s boring and a waste of time. Students who know me, however, don’t fight because they already trust me.
The best way to learn is to squash your inner know-it-all and unquestioningly do what you are told. I struggle with this myself because a know-it-all is exactly who I am. But whenever I stop worrying about the teaching method in the classes I take as a student, that’s when I start learning.
I can’t teach anybody Arestovich’s method because it’s individualized. It’s not a happy pill. It’s hard work. You have to identify your own personal problem and solve that specific problem.
Example. I’m a slow thinker. I come up with great, funny, profound comebacks a week after the conversation took place. I get easily disoriented, especially by something negative. In a crisis, I can follow directions beautifully, in a calm and composed way. But I can’t come up with what to do unless I have a chance to think.
The neoliberal administrator probably sensed this in me. Or maybe he tries this trick on everybody. He invited me for a positive conversation about something I wanted but opened with the worst possible scenario that has never even been discussed. Normally, I’d be thrown off by the swiftness and the negativity. But today I wasn’t. I had solved my problem and could now come up with a looping, soothing argument on the spot. And it worked.
The method consists in finding out why you are how you are and doing something about it.
I have a colleague who sends me more emails in a week than the rest of the department put together does in the whole semester.
Do difficult people know they are difficult?
People often project local issues on other countries. Cue the example of Cuba. It’s great that the Socialist dictatorship in Cuba has walked away from putting gay people in concentration camps. But it’s still a dictatorship. It’s still terrible. It’s a softer totalitarianism that it used to be 40-50 years ago. But it’s still a totalitarianism.
People who are saying that legalizing gay marriage makes Cuba better than the US and the democratic countries of Europe should be ashamed of themselves. They are using terrible suffering of Cubans to make some inane partisan jab.
Many things in the world aren’t about you. Deal with it.