The couple of photography classes I had were taught by a photographer who was a professional and did art work that is held in several museums. He had no problem teaching proper technique, criticizing laziness in approach and lambasting some students for subject matter. However, if you strived for a technically good print, and showed continued improvement he was more open to subject matter. His main focus was on learning to see photographically and learning how to use materials to acheive that in a print.
I had several conversations with him and his opinion was that to many people think they are artists and choose photography because they see it as an easy way to create art with little or no talent. His view was that a photographer who has a very good understanding of the medium, its various processes, strengths and limitations and has technique down as second nature will always produce superior work and in turn can produce art.