Re: Steven Seagal seems like a jerk teacher. A bit at least...
There is a documentary on S. Seagal as an aikidoist on youtube. Yes, his aikido is a lot harder than most of us are used to, but he wants it to be effective on the street. The reason he might come across as a jerk might be because he "knows and expects excelence", to quote one of his students. He is probably not the kind of instructor you would go to if you only want to train twice a week, but rather the kind of instructor for people who want to devote their life to aikido. He has really high standards.
An example from my life: I have had some jerky teachers in high school. When I graduated and reminisced about those years, I realized that I learned most from that one teacher who would push me to do better time and time again. She forced me to study hard, even though I did not want to and the subject did not interest me one bit. She did not go soft on me (or on anyone else, for that matter): she gave biting remarks if I once again forgot to do some task -I'm rather forgetful, if I made a mistake I should not have made anymore in that year. She even had the guts to laugh in your face and call you stupid. I really hated to go to those lessons, but at the end of the day, I learned a LOT. She only acted that way because she wanted us to reach a certain level, which most of us eventually did. I have actually ended up studying that particular subject, now.
So I wonder: is it a teacher's task to be friendly, or to teach people new things and move them further beyond their limits than they thought possible? Being looked down upon or reprimanded has a certain effect on people: they desperately want to prove their teacher and fellow students that they can do it, that they are this good, so they will train harder, and with more resolve.
It depends on which teaching method you prefer.