I think you can learn aikido more quickly from "direct transmission," that is, practicing with your teacher one on one. If your teacher is a hands-on type of teacher, then you will be able to get a feel for what aikido really is, provided that your teacher knows what aikido really is.
Older teachers will generally select a few top students to be their uke on a regular basis. They do this for a number of reasons. One of the reasons is to "transmit" the essence of aikido through continuous, long-term contact and practice.
Talking, rationalizing and practicing with those at your own level is the slow way to learn. Finding the highest level teacher you can, and then serving as his uke is the fastest way to learn.
A long time ago, my teacher gave me a valuable piece of advice. He said, "learn to be a good uke, and always volunteer to be the uke for the teacher."
I followed his advice and eventually became the exclusive uke for a shihan in Asia. That experience helped me to progress a great deal in my skill and understanding of aikido, which of course, is a never-ending path. But at least now, since the knowledge has been transmitted to me, I can continue to improve, with or without my teacher's instruction. That, to me, is more valuable than gold.