I fully agree with you. Learning to shoot photographs in automatic mode does not translate well into understanding the exposure triangle. Having no DOF preview limits the understanding of aperture size.
I equate it to learning to drive a car. If you learn to drive on a standard transmission, it is very simple to transfer what you learned and feel fully comfortable driving an automatic. If, however, you learn to drive on an automatic, it still takes a lot of practice to feel comfortable driving a standard transmission. Many (most) folks never do make the transition.