Is it necessary to have a teacher (or mentor/coach) to master every skill? What if I am taking an online tutorial with pre-recorded videos? Can I count that teacher training?

I have read the concept of deliberate practice and 10,000 hours of practice being needed to become an expert. But my question is whether these 10,000 hours need to be (partially) guided to receive personal feedback and/or coaching, or whether self-learning is sufficient?

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    $\begingroup$ Of course it is possible to teach yourself many things; and there are often a wide range of self-help resources available. I guess the issue is how much benefit would you get from having a person assist you in your learning process? And what kinds of skills can you more readily acquire using self-study? And what background, motivation, and so on does a person need to effectively self-teach? $\endgroup$ Mar 31, 2015 at 7:11
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    $\begingroup$ @JeromyAnglim Deliberate practice theory actually requires expert feedback, I'll dig up a reference. $\endgroup$ Mar 31, 2015 at 7:27
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    $\begingroup$ @ChristianHummeluhr I agree that expert feedback accelerates learning and will often increase asymptotic skill attainment. I just don't think it is "necessary" in the sense that it is possible to attain a reasonable level a skill in many domains without expert feedback. $\endgroup$ Mar 31, 2015 at 7:32
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    $\begingroup$ @ChristianHummeluhr I see. I wonder if expert tuition should be part of the definition or just a common feature. I tend to define, perhaps circuitously, deliberate practice as "a form of practice that is designed to maximise learning". $\endgroup$ Mar 31, 2015 at 7:54
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    $\begingroup$ I am not an expert on the topic, but "any skill" makes the question way too broad. E.g. using youTube to master juggling is doable (motor learning), but a similar approach won't get you a PhD ("way of thinking"). Also, what is an "expert" or "master" in "any skill"? I think this question needs work and I vote to close. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Mar 31, 2015 at 12:41

1 Answer 1


I'll give you an example of a famous mathematician who developed his mathematical research in isolation. Arguably If someone manages to achieve a high level of skill in solitude for such an extraordinary difficult discipline as mathematics I would deny the need to have a teacher (in any case) to master a skill which is less difficult than be an expert in math. (Which is arguably any discipline). However as mentioned in the comments having some kind of feedback might be useful in mastering a skill faster. Additionally not every person is as gifted as was S. Ramanujan. Therefore I suggest it depends on your inborn intellectual abilities with regard to the skill you want to become an expert of. Therefore this question cannot be answered in general but only with respect to person X inborn intellectual qualities with regard to the skill person X wants to become an expert of. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Srinivasa_Ramanujan

  • $\begingroup$ I like Ramanujan a professor who strenuously disagrees with me; because of my unorthodox methods of getting right answer, once compared me to him in front of the class but I need to disagree with you on this sorry. $\endgroup$
    – user3832
    Apr 1, 2015 at 0:35

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