Lately some of my students and I have been struggling with an incredibly bad textbook. I’ve been trying to mix things up, make the class fun and interesting, turn things in the text into games, bring in outside material, etc. but to no avail. My students are incredibly bored with the book and find the grammar explanations outlined in it impossible to understand. So tonight I decided to broach the subject of possibly changing textbooks to my students. Toward the end of class I basically leveled with them and asked them what they thought. I told them what I was thinking (they seemed bored, the book was uninteresting, difficult to understand, etc.) and asked them to either acknowledge or dispute this. They slowly acknowledged it and I said we could try another book, which they agreed to.
But I was surprised at how reluctant they were to express their dissatisfaction with the textbook. Perhaps they thought I had chosen it and didn’t want to offend me. But in my past experiences I’ve noticed that Russians are incredibly honest and straightforward, unafraid to tell you what they are thinking. On the other hand, they are more than willing to give a second chance before saying something or deciding to make a change. So perhaps this is what I experienced tonight. They were clearly unhappy but were making the best of the situation. Perhaps in a week or so they would have mentioned something but I simply beat them to it. In all honesty I’m not entirely sure. But from other things I’ve seen, heard and experienced, this is my best evaluation of the situation.
So what can be learned from this? Well, Russians are very honest and you almost always know where you stand with them. But they are also very patient and this patience should not be taken advantage of. When approached with a solution to the problem, they will appreciate honesty and openness and the fact that you want to work with them to make the situation better for all involved.