I think you're misinterpreting what was written: it wasn't not to study/learn about the past, but that once one has done that, then fine, digest it but move on and free your own mind and vision.
Frankly, John, that's one of the main reasons that I advocate not having tutors. When I joined the in-house photographic unit of a very large industrial company in the UK I was obliged to go to night school and join the Institute of British Photographers course as a condition to my employment though I had already learned more in a week within the unit than I ever did over subsequent months of college. As I've mentioned in the past, I had little interest in engineering and associated work, but the job was my one and only route into pro photography so I clung on until I had nothing more to benefit from the place. However, I did learn important techniques such as colour processing and batch printing by hand. Anyway, my interest was fashion and from that interest I was very aware of all the leading photographers in that field.
One night in class, the chap supposedly teaching portraiture and I had a little contretemps: I happened to mention David Bailey with some deep sense of respect and this dodo replied that should his photography resemble Bailey's he'd give up. Right. I didn't go back and I did retain the job, until I left for the commercial world. Cracks about teaching and/or doing are not entirely based on fiction. Worse, this chap actually held a senior post in one of the top commercial studios in Glasgow. I suppose there was a certain Schadenfreude in the air when my own little operation survived the demise of that studio many years later…
Insofar as the non-professional photo world is concerned, I think it even less desirable to follow leaders. If not for the freedom to develop one’s own vision, free of other's ideas, why bother with it at all? Perhaps that's why so many people all do the same kind of thing these days: tutored clones?
The single aspect of learning/teaching that I think is now essential, if only to save precious time, is the face-to-face, one-on-one learning of Photoshop from someone with the time and interest to impart the knowledge. To me, PS isn’t about photography at all: it’s but another science – a technical exercise that now stands in the way of transferring art to paper or screen, but with the fairly successful annihilation of the competition, which other path to follow in order to reach one’s goal?