All your comments were very helpful, thank you....
But seriously, there was one other point that I wanted to make yesterday, but I ran out of time (I had to run as I was typing).
We had this one teen in our school who had horrible 360 tornado kicks. Just awful. And none of the instructors ever corrected his technique! They just kept letting him perform horrible 360 kicks, week after week, month after month. As a new student, I found this very confusing. Why did nobody pull this kid aside and try to improve his technique?
And then, one day, suddenly his kicks were good! It was...like magic. Without any additional instruction, he somehow mysteriously self-corrected? What the....!!!
From that point forward, I started paying closer attention to this phenomenon. I saw that same pattern repeated with a lot of children. Sloppy technique, week after week, with minimal correction from the instructors, sloppy sloppy sloppy...and then one day -- it's as if a lightbulb goes off over the head. Suddenly the kid "gets it". Suddenly the technique is looking crisp.
I don't have a good understanding of this phenomenon. Is it that children are natural mimics? Is it that their motor skills finally caught-up with the movements that their brains had been signaling the whole time? I don't know. What I learned from this is that humans don't seem to learn the way I thought they learned. I guess teaching more "advanced" techniques early (before prior techniques are fully mastered) gives kids' brains the chance to play with the advanced techniques for a longer period of time, so the end result is faster progress?
Bottom line: I agree with you; I too found modern taekwondo teaching fairly "weird" compared to what I was used to from my old-school days, but it actually seems to work remarkably well.