A study at Oregon State University found that graduate students who scored above average on the Miller's Analogy Test had lower grades and lower academic success in general than those who scored in the middle of the range, and the higher their MAT scores were, the less successful they were as graduate students. In the US, there are "philosophies" that are unspoken but pervasive in the universities, changing very slowly; for much of the last century, neo-kantianism was the main ideology, that gradually displaced the older platonism. I mentioned this to friends, who found that the secret for getting perfect grades on essays (in different departments) was to express a neo-kantian perspective on the topic.
I think schools, especially universities, everywhere are mainly interested in submissiveness and conformity. Once you realize the dangers involved in dissenting, it's possible to use tricks like your friend's, for self-protection, while using the resources of the university. To learn effectively, it's necessary to question the assumptions behind everything, but few professors like to have their assumptions questioned. Always keeping in mind that "this is what they believe, it isn't necessarily true," will allow you to gradually build up your own view, and to keep your tentativeness or skepticism private, discussing it only with people that you trust.
In the universities where I have studied or taught, only about 5% of the teachers were really interested in helping the students to learn; it's important to find people like that, if possible.