Being someone who has had both types of scopes and mounts I can honestly say I have learned more with the GOTO setup than I have ever learned with the manual set up.
Previous to my current setup which is a SkyWatcher 200p (8” Mirror) and a EQ5 with SynScan GOTO added I have either manual mounts or mounts with a RA tracking motor for photography.
Both Refractors and Reflectors and I certainly prefer reflectors unless you have a very large wallet.
Now unless you use your telescope for large bright objects and have loads of free time then I would certainly choose the GOTO every time.
If you like me and have a work schedule and family like to slot in around you hobby (should that be the other way around?) You will find a manual telescope very frustrating on anything other that the brightest object in out solar system.
I may only have a couple of hours to go out with the scope and I have spent many frustrating hours searching for DSO’s (Deep Space Objects) and getting nowhere, arriving back home without seeing the objects I was searching for. What did I learn from this experience? Space is very big!
Now since having the GOTO option I have learned, a lot about Polar alignment, how to set up and telescope correctly, how to align a telescope to 3 bright stars, to get correct alignment. Just learning the bright visible stars is an achievement and if you go at different times of the night and months throughout the year you get to learn all about the local bright stars that you need to know for correct alignment.
When I go out these days it what used to take me 10 minutes to set up (Manual) now takes me 30-40 minutes to get everything, balanced, polar aligned, and GOTO 3 star alignment set up, but once set up correctly that is it for the observing session.
A full catalogue of objects and planets are at my finger tips, full visual tracking of objects, anyone who has manually found DSO objects in the eyepiece only for a few seconds later is gone? Things move fast out there! The bigger your scope and the higher power eyepiece you use the smaller your field of view and you are constantly adjusting your scope, where as with the GOTO option once correctly set up objects remain the the FOV for very much longer in fact nearly all night if required.
I can spend most of my evenings observing session actually viewing the objects I wanted to view from my observing lists, and yes I'm learning more about the night sky than ever before simply because GOTO made it a less frustrating experience and allowed me to spend my time with the telescope doing what I like to do, which is view our vast expanding universe.
People who say to me you are not learning about the hobby is rubbish, I have learned more since I went GOTO than ever before, If you want to learn the sky manually that's great get a star map book and a pair of binoculars and enjoy your hobby, but to say to me I know more about the sky than you, could be true? But ask your self this! What did you come into the hobby for? To sit there night after night learning star charts so you could point out to people oh there is M31 or M57? Or did you come into the hobby to view the wonders of the night sky and out planets? Just because I have a GOTO telescope does not mean I'm not learning, in fact I could point out a vast amount of objects and planets in out sky, simply because once GOTO has positioned the scope and cantered the object, that's not the end! I step back from the eyepiece and look up “Oh that's where it is” can I see it in binoculars? What's the nearest constellation? Any bright known stars in the FOV. GOTO simply means you have options, how you use those options depends on the person. For me the whole galaxy is there, and other galaxies as well so don't be an Astro Snob! GOTO is a fantastic achievement for the average astronomer and has released the hobby into the 21st century
My telescope time is no longer a frustrating experience and is more a giant learning curve learning about DSO’s, nebula’s and galaxies and I’ve now moving on to astro-photography this again is another massive learning curve, but now I have the time to learn about the photography side knowing that I can at least find the DSO objects next step is photographing them