With respect to point and shoot vs. get it right? I can't speak for anybody else but I think the easiest, best place to make the image good is in the camera. The camera is the tool where you make the image right? ...that's the whole deal. You create the image in your mind and you use the camera to record it. It's that translation from mind to recorded image that makes you a photographer.
Think about it like music. A person can make up and hear a guitar riff in their mind, but only a skilled guitarist can finger it out. The sound booth guy can't process a sound that he can't record... and the better the sound, the less he has to mess with it in post.
Post processing is handy, especially when you have a LOT of images to do... but it's a slow, expensive way to make a soso photograph into a great one. So, yeah, get it right when you're shooting.
As for education... hang on to yer hat, this is a soapbox issue for me...
I'm almost completely self-educated... with help from a batch of truly generous mentors along the way. I'm high school dropout that went back to vocational college later on. I was married to a professor at UNC for 14 years. I think academics would be really awesome if the academic community gave equal respect to time served at OJT... but they don't. Wait, I shouldn't get started on the ivory tower academics tirade... you asked a different question.
The fact is, and this is just stupidly obvious, that different people learn different ways. Brains are different, experience is different and there's about a gazillion other factors in play too. I prefer to learn by doing and experimenting... but it's costly in terms of time and resources... but hey, so is school. I still have to rely on people to help me, mentors, colleagues, pundits, etc... but hey, same with school. It took me years of under-confident struggling before I realized I could learn almost anything to a basic level of competency on my own. The only two things I ever HAD to rely on formal training for were flying and windsurfing... and I'd have given the flying thing a go if they would've let me.
When I graduated from tech school and got my first full-time job, I was stupified (more than usual) by how different work was from what I learned in school... and the program I was in was practically tailored to this particular employer. There's just no substitute for working in a professional, private sector environment where performance is the difference between a raise and a promotion... or a dead end and maybe a firing. Better yet, self-employment will really teach you some things on the fast track, you only have time for what's important so you rarely ever learn something you won't use.
As for degrees, I think it really helps a person to know what level they're at, same with people who might potentially hire such a person... problem is, standards. Some schools have'em, some don't. Professional training is completely hit and miss. I had been installing local area networks for six years when Microsoft started their certification programs, I hired several MS certified guys as contractors. The ones without experience were as lost as they could be; I had a high school kid who picked the stuff from scratch much better and faster. To this day, I don't trust professional certification unless it's boarded by an exclusive, nationally recognized organization with stringent testing for certification and continuing development programs. For instance, Microsoft, nahh, I don't think so... American Board of Pediatric Medicine... that's more like it but you still need to watch'em.
I know people who strongly prefer academic learning... They have to self-educate in the process, but the coursework keeps them on track. Frankly, I like going off track when some side issue attracts me and that's tough when you still have to go to class and pass the tests. I like wading in and making mistakes; I like feeling overwhelmed by a body of knowledge I can't wrap my mind around until I gradually work through it... I love those days when suddenly, I feel like I'm holding that body of knowledge in the palm of my hand. Clinically, that's symptomatic of bi-polar disorder but to me, it's just the way I keep going.
When I apply all the above to something like workshops, I see the best of all worlds... you've got immersion learning, you've got mentors, you've got colleagues, you've got advanced resources, a concentrated focus on a specific subject and a network of new contacts after the fact. That's just hard to beat. I've attended lots of workshops and focus groups on leadership, writing, uh... windsurfing, public speaking and technical management. My first photography workshop was cancelled when the leader, Galen Rowell, was killed in an aviation accident. I haven't really been in a position to up for one since... you'll see me at a Supershoot or a Robert Sanders gig one day though... of course, if JimmyD starts doing'em, I'll find a way to be at the first one!
I see nothing wrong at all with degrees and certifications, they clearly benefit a lot of people. What I have a problem with is people and organizations that refuse to respect self education and experience as at LEAST an equal qualification.