Have read this thread with interest - I'm just starting out on the drums and have chosen to go with a teacher as opposed to self-taught. I think it's an individual choice and I have a good muso friend who is always poo-pooing my desire to learn 'properly' - he's what we'd call an awesome 'hack' - he can pick up any musical instrument and play it, not technically great but with awesome feel and creativity. I guess I chose to get a teacher for the following reasons...
1. I want to get my technique right because I believe good technique will give me the best drumming skills I'm capable of. Just this week my drum teacher mentioned I need to hit my snare harder - it wouldn't have occurred to me just listening to my own playing. Same goes with stuff like stick placement and the like - getting the best sound out of the instrument. It's great to have an objective ear.
2. Motivation - going to lessons each week gives me mojo to practice and keeps me connected to drumming.
3. Monitor progress - going to a teacher allows me to monitor how I'm progressing and to learn in a structured way, suitable to my growing skill level. I'm not just randomly learning stuff - each skill builds on the last, and it feels more wholistic, if that makes sense?
4. Objective and expert criticism - valuable feedback from someone who knows drumming and can assess my growth and areas of weakness on an on-going basis.
I don't believe that learning formally or being self-taught necessarily indicates differences in playing ability. I think it's a personal decision and for my wants and needs, it's helpful to have the structure and feedback. I'm one of those people who really needs to understand how things work, to know and apply the theory, while others learn more organically 'from the heart'. I guess my ideal would be to combine both head and heart to my playing.
Rock on brothers and sisters.