Re: is there a correct learning path?
IMO aikido is a holistic martial art - the techniques flow into one another and you use what is appropriate at the time. You need to learn in a structured way to start off with (get a grading syllabus), but ultimately you will reach a point where you are not learning techniques, but just how to move with your partner (and techniques drop out). I believe in 3 different training methods which should ALL be used:
1. static - to develop body mechanics
2. single repeated techniques with strong agressor - to develop reactions and integrate techniques into nervous system
3. slow blending exercises - to develop sensetivity to opponent and develop ability to swap between techniques
Obviously there are more people than you in the class, and the instructor generally has to teach to the average ability of the students.