I agree - but that's just my opinion (and yours apparently). Others feel differently.
And frankly some things are harder to do with an autofocus camera, unless you turn off all the features (and sometimes even then - the screens are designed for framing, not critical focus).
Most of what you say with regard to the positive aspects of understanding one's craft are true. A person who discovers that their choice of tool is negatively affecting their product and who wishes to improve will generally find out how to adjust the camera to make the choices they wish (if possible), or to take manual control (if possible) or replace the camera with one that will allow them to do what they want to do.
I met someone last year who did a lot of macrophotography of flowers. Almost invariably, the plane of focus was the edge of the flower, while some of the body was blurred. She used one of the EOS models, I forget which. She was using the autofocus, which was picking the contrast at the tips of the petals as a focus point, about 1 cm closer than needed given the apparent depth of field. I found myself annoyed by the effect, and thinking how much better the shots could be if she had depth of field preview. I submit that a student is far better off learning with, for example, a old screw mount SLR, than an auto-everything wonder - even an F5. And the student can save hundreds or thousands of dollars in the process. (I wonder when Epson and Cosina are going to partner on a screw-mount, or maybe F-mount, DSLR. It would seem the logical next step if the RD1 sells well.)