Try not to get irritated with your current or past CFIs until you are CERTAIN that it is they who are actually holding you back. First, no CFI wants to see their clients frustrated or not enjoying flight. Being a CFI trying to teach to a disgruntled student is worse than trying to be a band performing for a displeased audience, and trust me, the CFI has a proverbial finger very close to the pulse of how you're feeling about the day's lesson. Enthusiasm
are the order of the day.
I once had a client who loved to go flying. LOVED it. Showed up for every lesson early, had the plane preflighted before her lesson was scheduled to begin, an hit the books in ways even I envy. When I last heard from her, she had been through every CFI our flight school had and STILL hadn't soloed. She was probably pushing over 80 hours at that point. What stood between her and her progress was her inability to overcome her fears in the cockpit. With an instructor with her she was fine, but the mere uttering of the word "solo..." and she lapsed back into the "turning the yoke left causes the plane to turn to the left" days.
I state these two points only as a reference for you to apply to your situation. I'll continue...
Any instructor will agree that primary Private Pilot flight training can be broken up into 3 phases. They are:
1. Getting ready to solo
2. Preparing to do your solo cross countries
3. Putting the finishing touches on your skills in prep for the FAA checkride...your "drivers test".
Another phenomenon I always noticed was that in the pre-solo days, a student pilot relies HEAVILY on the guidance of the instructor as to what gets done during the lesson. You're so dizzy with books, this thing called "the written", checklists, regulations, theories, policies...PTS...you just don't know where to start first, so you look to your instructor for that direction.
After you do your initial solo and begin to learn how to plan a cross country flight, the instructor starts to pull back a bit...putting more of the responsibility on you to gather all of the necessary information you'll need to make your own "go, no-go" decision. Oh, they're still very much paying attention, but now they doing more observing to see how you'll handle it and to see where your weaknesses lie. This is a good thing because we all have weaknesses and it helps to make the most of your paying dollar when I can easily and quickly identify the places where a client needs help.
The phenomenon to which I was referring to is the one in which the student pilot becomes more autonymous, not just in their flight planning, but also in their ability to self-critique and ask themselves "OK, how ready am I for the checkride, and what do I need to work on?"
After the cross countries are done, it's time for us to go dual to revisit some maneuvers and regs to make sure they don't get owned by the examiner on the basics during the checkride. It's during this time where I would always encourage the client to work WITHOUT me on the knowledge areas...using the PTS and Oral Exam Guide for guidance, study and try to learn as much as they can, and then when we meet I can quiz them on the more notoriously misunderstood concepts of the Private Pilot training. I just never got over feeling guilty as I sat in the FBO quizzing them on knowledge areas that they could have easily learned if they had just spent a few minutes of quiet time with the Airplane Flying Handbook or the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical knowledge. Studying alone is FREE and I found it to be one of the most underutilized training techniques a student pilot can use.
Based on reading your post, it sounds like you've soloed, and quite possibly even done with your cross countries. If that's the case, then your instructor isn't so much a "teacher" at this point, but more of an "evaluator". If you were my client and you've reached this level, I wouldn't say "So what do you want to do today?", but I would definitely be leaning heavily and encouraging you to decide what you feel you need my help with in prep for the checkride. You're close to the day when there won't be an instructor with you to ask, and you're going to be constantly engaging in a personal conversation , asking yourself "How am I doing?"
The purpose of flight training is to teach you stick and rudder skills as well as some very important decision making skills. This isn't exactly dance class! If you feel like your time is being wasted, ask your instructor (in a nice way of course) "Jim, where am I weak right now? Is it my steep turns, or my ability to explain a stall?"
Make him earn his money! Ask to set a date for your checkride, that way you both have a common goal: you to be prepared for your big day and it will make him more attentive to what needs to be fixed (in a timely manner).
Oh, and one more thing before I go: I would always send my people on at least one "dry run" checkride with another instructor so they get a feel for a "stranger" in the cockpit, and to give me some honest feedback as to where my clients weaknesses would lie. Made them better prepared, and it made me a better instructor.
Best of luck to you. It sounds like you've got all of your ducks in a row.