I learned to sail on a Laser, but also used a Sunfish (largest one-design association in the world, I've heard) to sail more. I preferred the Laser, due to it's being easier to tack (Sunfish sail sweeps the deck so there's a lot of movement to keep from getting whacked) plus a Laser can take two better than a Sunfish. The hull/deck joint on the Sunfish seemed to be where most of the water got in, and I've seen them sink while sailing due to that.
Still, either way the best way to learn is with one of those small boats. When I taught my kids to sail I got them an Optimist Pram, which can be sailed by an adult too, and has the advantage of being a fair dinghy when you inevitably move up to a bigger boat! They tend to be pricey though as they are tough, can be repaired and have a huge racing association too.