I know that Nietzsche was a man who believed that it was up to the individual to realise his/her own potential rather than have decisions made for them by conventions (academia?) or religion, but does this mean that he was an advocate for self-education?
The question is not centrated in the matters of being a self-education or a education that comes from another educators, like public education, but, literally in something that you've already said about: "the realization of own individuals potential by they own".
So, we need to look deeper than that and perceive what caracteristics of the public education can inhibit the "the individuals pursuit for their own potential".
In Thus Spoke Zarathustra, few times Nietzsche says about "Culture" and "Education", and in those times he is certainly talking about the process of vulgarization of the knowledge in itself, of moral values as the truth and the necessary way of conduct. When the education is a "friend-of-the-ressentment" by teaching and preaching values and knowledges that can literaly limit the dinamic between psique and fisiology, not only teaching these contents as being materials of human creation that are important to be knowed, but establishing fixed values like the "good" and the "evil", the "right" and the "wrong", it can bring what Zarathustra names by: spirit of gravity. So, the problem in education is not only a common sense matter, or a vulgarized right view of life, or an herd-packed like content, but if it really can effectivally bring ressentment; or, in other words: A psychophisiological dissagregation (the spirit of gravity).
The psychophisiological desagregation: The inhibit of the will to power, of the "drunkenness", of the joviality, of the innocence, the creation and life impulses into all of the humanity. So, some cultures and educations can be a great enemy of the will to power, being something unhealthy.
My answer to your question is another question: The education that you're talking about: it rises the affirmation of the life into you: your will-to-power, in a "ethic way, of course", or it causes a psychophisiological dissagregation?
A:Nietzsche was an advocate of the most serious education. The issue, very simply, is that erudition without talent is insufficient. Aristocracy, means, the best should rise to the top. This is contrasted with the information gathering, that is open to even the smallest capacities.
Haphazard answer in longer form for the interested:
The question is more about whether one is a “free thinker” in the sense of being godlike or creative with what one knows. Not like the newspapers or like something received in the manner of a representative of an unthinking herd, which means especially the educated herd. The brainwashed if you like.
The issue is really the question of talent. All actual philosophizing, is, of course, the education one gives oneself. The main question which one sees as much in Kant, a very fair and good man, as in Nietzsche and Heidegger, more questionable individuals, is the drone mass of the educated philistines. Who, largely, deserve to be wholly disregarded as simple fools on any serious understanding of Aristotle’s “despise often”. Nietzsche speaks of “specialists without spirit”. One should read his essay, still topical, on the Philologists. Nietzsche himself was professor extraordinarius of Philology. There was a strong tradition in Germany despising philistinism.
The situation, starting with Schleiermacher’s reforms, is still at work. When the lecture format came in, the medieval emphasis on collective research into truth, on the disputation, on the manner of putting the opponent's argument forward in the strongest form, fell off. The professors were paid to hold audiences' attention, by the student who wished to attend lecture. Today, what one now faces, is the increasing domination of a few English-speaking universities (I sometimes speak of the British in this sense, of the global English-speaking Proffesorite, not yet totally realized), elite institutions, which franchise a collective course material to the rest of the world. So those who suppose that some concept, learned at this or that university, is uniformly set down, can not simply be passed off as naive, and inexperienced. Increasingly, scholarship, requiring talent, is replaced by a technique for adding to the store of information. This has something to do with the methodology of the sciences finding its way into the humanities. A division of subject matter no older than 1848 in its present understanding, and in its actual accomplishment, first in the German speaking world and then in the world.
So Nietzsche's attitude has to do with the destruction of real culture, requiring of aristos, or best human capacities, rather than the Enlightenment replacement of talent with functionaries capable of increasing the inductive basis of any field through a degraded notion of research. All serious education is research, that’s what a terminus degree is, a research degree. But, the basic problem in relation to Nietzsche is the rise of utter philistinism. The education a Nietzsche gives himself, is not that a average professor gives himself. Today, however there is a escalation of the difficulty. I give an example of what one often sees, from outside the field of philosophy. Which runs parallel to the difficulties of the epoch already known to Nietzsche, the inevitable prevailing of know-how without insight, or, as it was called in antiquity, right opinion without knowledge. In other words, someone knows something on authority, but does not truly understand what they have got inculcated into their brainpan.
Example: Hasok Chang, a top university professor, showed that wherase it was long known that there are two boiling points, that it was know since antiquity, a blind command in the standard or textbook account went out to claim there was one boiling point. The view one know’s from one’s compulsory schooling. He demonstrates it with the highest rigour, yet, nothing happens. Why? The sheer force of philistinism. How does it work, one learns something from an authority, then one treats, rather like a man from a remote part of the Amazon, who when told there are no witches, displays pity for the one who is so dangerously misinformed about reality, the mass view inspires those who don’t understand what they have been taught, with such a sense of impenetrable knowing, which is, in reality autistic slumber.
This is true in Nietzsche's’ sense with the ad hominem issue. The global-english speaking conception, the result of the current transformations of all life on the earth, towards technological techniques in study, receive a sensible but inessential notion, the informal logical concept of ad hominem, as the claim about not denying an argument outright because of its source. This is a perfectly sensible conception. But the deeper sense, obvious to anyone with philisophic sense, refers to the essence of Western philosophy, not as the artificial invention of some professor, but as a necessary outgrowth of actual philosophizing from the Socratic/Platonic dialogues up until the death of those, e.g., Gadamer, with a proper education prior to the war from the philisophic countries. That conception, which is of essential importance to any student of philosophy, to any human being, is no longer understood. This is the sort of issue Nietzsche had in mind. What is required is education that is an art that teaches one how to move forward in any given subject matter, in a manner adequate to that subject. And not in the manner of the blind agglutination of information, passed off as scholarship. But the issue is not a debate, it is rather the destiny of the world. Since the rise of the sciences is not accidental to reality, the decline of the human being as such, as a being capable, ad hominem, of conviction and judgment, is set aside. Not by happenstance, but according to the “deadly truth”, of which Nietzsche tried to turn against, with his escape into the Life Giving Lie.
Ergo, the education Nietzsche speaks of is making oneself able to use one’s education, rather than being the subject to its Herrschaft or domination. This comes obvious if one thinks of the Twentieth century, education under Mao, under Stalin. Yet, for us, it is not education under the idea, but under the essence of Technicity, under the fact of Science as no longer the sciences. Unconstrained Macht, Power. Gathering information, for power.I.e., not essential matters, but any matter, is to be gathered up. Essential matters require talent.