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  1. In today's culture that's quick to criticize or debunk any form of authority, this form of skepticism towards authority is healthy, especially in politics, but it's a problem when it comes to learning.

    In order to learn you must have some sort of humility first. We have to admit that there are people out there who know more about our field than we do. Their superiority is not the result of some talent or privilege, but time & experience. Therefore, their authority in the field is not based on something bogus like politics or other forms of charlatanism.

    But I have been uncomfortable with this fact, and in general I feel mistrustful of any authority. That meant I succumbed to the belief that I can easily learn something on my own, and that being self-taught is more authentic.

    I tried to justify this as a sign of independence, but it actually comes from a generic form of insecurity. In some way perhaps unconsciously I felt learning from a master and submitting to their authority was an indictment on my natural ability. With the art teachers I've had in my life, i tend not to pay attention to their advice, and preferred to do things my own way. I actually thought that being critical of a master or teacher was a sign of my intelligence and being a submissive student was an admission of weakness.

    But this was horribly inefficient. In the early stages of acquiring practical knowledge, the most efficient manner possible is having mentors whose authority we recognize and submit. This admission of need doesn't say anything essential about us, but only about a temporary condition, one that the mentor will help overcome.

    Mentors are effective, because of the main reason: life is short and we have a finite amount of time & energy to afford.

    Learning what I need from books or my own practice and some advice is mostly a hit & miss process. Because the info from books is not tailor-made to my circumstances or individuality. It's abstract, and being young and inexperienced, we have trouble putting this abstract knowledge to practice. I learned from my experience but it took years to really understand the true meaning of what happened.

    I practiced on my own but I didn't get enough sustained/narrow feedback.

    Mentors aren't a shortcut - they actually streamline the process. They had mentors of their own, as well, and the following years of experience taught them more lessons and strategies for learning.