Hi, Cheply, it was the seventies, my teachers were a very non-judgemental bunch.
They didn't discourage imaginative art at all, but they also thought we should use whatever tools were available to us to create what we wanted in paints or pencil.
We did work from live models and life but we were also assigned to do a few paintings from photos, as well as make over a piece of classic art. The point was to be versatile and not to dismiss a perfectly legitimate option (the photograph) on some idealistic grounds.
Drawing from life is excellent for developing eye and enhancing your skill and style, no question about it, but I'm old enough to be very settled in my own mind about what I want to do with my pencils
I have found that the more reference you have in your head from drawing realistic images, gained however you want to go about it, frees you up to and gives you a greater ability to draw from your imagination if and when you choose.
School's different of course, teachers do want to lay good foundation and expose the students to as much variety of media and technique as they can, not a bad thing.
I do not know about Kayty's cartridge paper but if you know the grid system for transferring images by hand it is really very effective for keeping proportions accurate. I use it if I want to be sure my outline is completely accurate. Here's one explanation, you can search and come up with several more: http://www.allaboutdrawings.com/grid-drawing.htm