Any Tai Chi teacher worth their salt will teach pushing hands and partnerwork. It is an essential part of the discipline. Some teach it from the very beginning whilst others will introduce it at a later stage.
Pushing Hands can also be called striking hands. I came across the term " Trying Hands " which I like because it conveys a different flavour than that implied by pushing or striking, which might make a person think they have to be more " Martial " and tense up.
That is not to say that Tai Chi isn't a martial art, because it is. It is not a health practise, buddhist meditation, a new age fad or anything else. It is complete in itself and worthy of serious study. Other disciplines may inform your practise but are not a substitute for it.
Partnerwork allows you to work on the principles of Tai Chi with other people. It challenges you to understand softness and relaxation in the face of pressure. There are specific techniques to be understood which I will discuss in another post.
Trying Hands allows for an exploration of how different we all are, of touch, softness, hardness, strength, weakness and all that we bring to that moment. It is lively and dynamic.
So don't be put off from working with partners in class. Change your approach and Try their Hands!