~~Yes, the assumption has been striking as I worded it 'on either side'. Prior to Aikido I taught a number of years in another MA and had to deal with the balance of both being approached by students who seemed to want favoritism and my own urge to indulge my human draw to this person over that. I was one of those (probably neurotic) instructors who wanted to keep teaching on almost a professional level; warm and welcoming, helpful to all and yet absolutely disciplined when that was called for. My students knew where I stood.
~~I've also been in a situation where my instructor tried to show me favoritism, giving me extra time and attention. I found it uncomfortable so I put more effort into extra duties and helping other students, which then made it feel acceptable. Yes, I know, my own internal check and balance scale.
~~More recently I've been in a dojo where a head teacher focused on a couple of people that even senior students told me he 'took under his wing'. A large school, many students had a similar complaint. Mostly I just figure...oh well, that's just the way it is, and I focus on my training. Yes, there are lessons in this as well, it just seems like an extra bump in the training road that doesn't need to be there. I know it's difficult to be the 'favorite' as well...
~~When I said I was just curious, that's what I meant
~~I read that as well in Mr. Heckler's book (also an excerpt in G. Leonard's Silent Pulse, I believe). His instructor and dojo seemed to put much emphasis on internal/character training as well. Perhaps some dojos/teachers conduct that training so subtly that slow students, like me, don't catch it.
~~Interesting topic, though...has brough out quite the spectrum of views. Thanks to all!