what they're going to teach you is basic stuff you'll get from many art books. Learning about composition, leading lines, zones etc...
You'll learn that the more direct the flash in a subject's face, the younger they look. You'll learn about flash fills, depth of field, and that 1/60 shutter speed will freeze most motion in a 50mm lens, and that shutter speed must be faster the longer the focal length.
Here's the ugly truth about learning photography:
You learn by doing. Find a subject and decide how you want to present that subject... then ask specific questions on how to achieve your goal.
I don't think one is better than the other. I just read an article on shooting macros into the sun with the aperature wide open. It's tough because of how bright the sun is. My camera only shoots up to 1/1000 shutter speeds so I would often need a ND filter to open the shutter completely.