I think a great teacher is one that is able to give each student the right mix between structure and explanation on one hand and freedom to develop your own technique on the other.
That's what I strive to do when I teach.
Maybe the reason is that I myself have had a very hard time (and still has) when it comes to opening my mind and accepting new ways of doing things. I have always had a tendency to choose a sensei and stick with him as a 'guideline'. Lately I have tried opening up and thereby taking in inputs from other teachers.
The interesting aspect is that this makes me more proned towards developing my own 'style' or interpretation of what Aikido is. I think that is a neccesary step for every aikido-ka to take in their progress, but also that it should be taken once you are ready to do so.
So.. in short.. I believe the best environment for studying aikido is one that encourages you to reflect on aikido but also supports you with structure and guidance for as long as you need it.
Finally making a sincere effort while maintaining a fun and lively atmoshpere is a vital point as well.
I shall try to remember this tomorrow where I am giving a one hour introduction to Aikido in front of 25 7-year olds and just as many parents...
Great weekend to all