To me this hits close to home. My major was art history but I had to take art classes. I too figure drawing the whole time because I wanted to learn to draw people better. I too figure drawing 1 all the way to 4. In the early classes I listened to my teachers and approached it in a realistic style, however when figure drawing 4 came around I was told to display my own style in most of my pieces. My art was actively ignored during critique, meaning no feedback was given. I don’t see how any student is supposed to grow if you get 0 feedback, that’s just bad teaching.
I have exhibited in a museum show, and two pop up exhibits so it not that my art was “bad” at the time, it was just obvious that the teacher disliked anything that was not realism. Even so as a teacher it is your job to give feedback and tips on how a student can improve.
I do see the value of pushing students out of their comfort zone, and I am grateful to my early figure drawing teacher who did so. I can draw “realistic” but it’s not my strong suit and now that I am done with school I have become stronger in my cartoon style, but the fundamentals that I learned still help me with every comic page I draw.