Paula Lydon wrote:
...it's pretty much demo/train, demo/train, demo/train....how it feels...like I'm intruding, no matter how much etiquette I try to fall back on. I have gotten wonderful help from various sempei, so perhaps I'm simply not at a level yet where I can access my teachers. Guess that's not a very clear answer. Sorry~~
Yes. The Jpn are very much Jug/Mug teachers, i.e., they are the jug of knowledge filling up the mugs of students. Socratic method need not apply.
I once watched as a chemistry teacher lectured his class. He wrote some equations on the board, turned to the lectern to look at his notes saying, "Any questions?" and, without looking up to see if anyone had raised his hand, went back to writing on the blackboard.
Actually, I would venture that you've very eloquently addressed your own problem:
"I don't feel that the lines of communication at my dojo are very open."
"I have gotten wonderful help from various sempei." [sempaI]
which being adequately explained by
"perhaps I'm simply not at a level yet where I can access my teachers."
It must get awfully tedious for teachers to explain the same beginning concepts for 30-40 years.
Also, your SEMPAI are a great resource. When I was teaching in Japan, I came to shake my head at the preference for "native-speaking English teachers." While they were more likely to be accurate, the Jpn had it all over us as regards the learning styles of our charges, not to mention the ability to explain it in their own language. Your SEMPAI enjoy similar cultural advantages and experience. This is a feature, not a bug.