While learning tango, it's understandable if we approach the dance with a "traditional classroom" mentality. The instructor teaches, and the students listen. When introduced to a new step, we try to do things correctly. When we mess up, we receive feedback and try to get things right.
This structure is logical, and after spending a significant number of years in our education system (especially here in the US), it's what we've grown accustomed to.
But for tango, the "traditional classroom" method is only one learning strategy. It isn't necessarily wrong, but it's not the only effective way to learn. And since it may not be right for everyone, we shouldn't feel stuck with it.
There's a lot of value in trying things out on our own by practicing with friends. Outside of classes or workshops is the time to go beyond what was taught, and to explore the dance. There's also less preoccupation with doing steps "correctly" or "incorrectly."
This free collaboration time shouldn't be viewed as an afterthought, or secondary to "serious class time." It's a necessary, and sound strategy for moving our tango forward.