It might seem a little outdated now - the A590 is amazing compared to its predecessor - but this camera is all most people will ever need.
I got it when I was in high school, so that I could have my own camera to use for the yearbook and to learn more about photography on my own time. It was everything I needed until I was ready to upgrade to an SLR, and even now it usually travels with me everywhere just in case there's a shot I can't resist.
Modern cameras are overkill. This one may only be 4mp, but that's all you need for a good 8x10 print. Sure, you can get compacts (that are a lot more compact than this one) that have 14mp these days - but are you really going to try and make a poster-sized print of your friends goofing off? Even if you did, it would probably be grainy. The camera might be able to capture at 14mp, but the hardware that actually captures the image can only take in so much. If you're looking to print posters, go look at a lower end SLR, at least.
To this day, the only thing I wish this camera had was more zoom. It's only 4x zoom, which has made it difficult to get some shots I was after.
Other than that - it has full manual mode, shutter priority, aperture priority and program mode, as well as a whole bunch of auto modes. I learned everything I now know about photography just by experimenting with this camera, because it has everything I ever needed in order to learn.
I used to work at a photography store, and I normally recommended this camera (or one of the newer versions of it) to parents of teenagers who were really interested in photography. It's extremely durable (god knows I never took very good care of it, and it's going on 5 years now) and has everything they could need to start learning about photography. Not only that, but it is surprisingly low priced.
Sure, it's not the prettiest thing in the world - it doens't come in cellphone size or bright colours - but for someone serious about learning photography, those things don't matter.