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As a teacher, do you think there is ever a point at which students can continue to achieve success and improve using mostly self-directed learning? in other words, yes, a mentor and/or teacher is definitely necessary during the beginning years of any practice. But, is there a point where in some practices, you can eventually rely on yourself to continue your development?

I think it's interesting that in some areas you can self-teach, and in other areas, it's at minimum not as easy to do so. For instance for someone who is learning to play an instrument, especially if they want to play it really well, I think a teacher is essential. There is a lot going on behind the production of music that a novice will not even notice or be aware of. And the teacher helps guide the path; says "Learn these scales" and "memorize these keys," and so on. The teacher shows you technique.

But for instance I self-taught myself knitting. I had hiccups along the way and I definitely did some things wrong for a long time, much longer than I would have if I had had a mentor. But I didn't mind, I was having fun, and in the meantime I got pretty damn good at knitting. Then I taught myself how to spin and dye and, well, at this point, give me a sheep's fleece and six months and I'll give you a sweater (or I could, if I was willing to invest the time and could borrow a spinning wheel from someone). You want colors? I'll give ya colors. You want lace? I'll give ya lace. I'd say 90% of my knitting education was self-taught. I'm not a knitting genius but I am absolutely proficient.

So when is that teacher necessary? Is there a point where your teacher can become like training wheels and you can take flight off into the world, still getting better at what you are doing, without the instruction of another? - Driving is another skill like knitting. Except I had a tutor for the first part.

I am asking because I need someone to reassure me I can keep getting better at poetry without a guru :) I do have a guru, but she is very far removed and seems to think that's a better approach. Sometimes I get feedback from people, but mostly, for years now, it's been about steering my own ship.