In the 40 or so years that I have been doing CMA, I have seen many approaches to teaching and learning traditional Chinese martial arts. The more I see, the more I appreciate the very traditional manner in which I was taught. Every highly skilled teacher I have had has taught the same way - and i believe with good reason. My first teacher, Henry Leung, taught me his family style of proto Wing Chun. I learned from him every night in the basement of his restaurant. The first month consisited of nothing but stance work and very basic hand movements. Sifu Leung would correct me regularly throughout the night, but mostlly it was solitary work to get stance strength w/ quality of strength (springy yet strong), alignment, and mechanics (song kua, center in the area below the groin, relaxed shoulder, hip and akle joints etc). Sifu Leung would only add a movement or a concept if he felt I demonstrated sufficient grasp of what he taught me up to that point. Progress was slow, methodical, and painful. Sometimes other new students would come, and soon be doing applications. I felt like I was missing out, and asked Sifu about it. He told me "never mind them. Don't pay it any attention. You do your work". That was not terribly stisfying, but I did as he said. Later I relized that although the other students had learned lots of techniques, their skills existed from the shoulders on out - they did not have the foundation skills. Why did Sifu Leung teach them this way? Basically, he was giving them what they wanted (demanded in a sense). He, like most teachers, separated students (in his mind and teaching) into students and customers. The customers would come and go, and would not have either the intellectual capability or patience to do the real work. They would leave happy with what they got (basically a bag of tricks) and were not even aware that there was another world of depth and skill to be learned - the real art, the real kung fu.
This process was repeated with most of my teachers. When I learned from Master Zhang Jun Feng and his wife Xu Baomei, it was the same. Master and Mrs. Zhang would have me training skill (liangong) while others were working on applications. Again, I would ask, and be told (generally in somewhat hushed tones) "just work on what you are doing. You can learn that any time. This is more important now".