Unless you have a specialized need (like available light photography of difficult subjects or printing large enlargements), it may be that a minimal camera is sufficient. There is a school of thought that living under the restrictions of such a camera, in the hands of a good photographer, leads to excellent photography and that learning with restrictions in a good thing and perhaps optimal.
Mike notes some comments from a professional photographer.
Pros, of course, know how to find interesting images. There is a lot most of us can learn with nearly anything and the combination of the low image cost of digital photography combined with the portability of a very small device that travels with you can be powerful.
Now if I only had the discipline to learn the art properly... A friend noted that her high school had a fine arts requirement for graduation - everyone had to take one term of a music or art class - she took photography and it shows. This happened about 20 years ago - it probably couldn't happen in a contemporary public high school with the obsession on testing and a very limited number of subjects.