I think your observation rings somewhat true. Civ Pro in particular is very rule oriented. Unlike property or torts, Civ Pro doesn't usually concern itself with a lot of policy reasoning. In my view, all of the 1L law school courses involve a high degree of memorization of rules... the so called "black-letter-law". In addition, to varying degrees, each course also involves application and interpretation of those rules. Our task as 1L's is to retain the rules and come exam-time, apply the rules in a way that best emulates our professor's attitude and style.
For instance, in my case, my property professor seems to emphasize policy. He went so far as to specifically inform us on day one that he didn't want to turn out a bunch of automotons that revelled in "black-letter-law". His reasoning is that, it is better to work to apply the rules with flexibility and get the "right answer" to a case than to apply a strict interpretation of the rules and accept an unjust result. (Thus he is, in my opinion, an advocate of judicial activism). In contrast, my contracts' professor has no such misgivings of application of the law. She has, thus far, laid-out a roadmap of the rules of contract. She has pointed-out inconsistancies, but at no time has she indicated a desire for loose interpretation or modification of the rules.
So, bottom line.... read your professors. Some will want policy and rationale above all else, some will cut-to-the-chase and get down to the common approach to the current set of rules. Civ Pro, fortunately in my opinion, doesn't lend itself to as much loose interpretation as the other classes; it's more of a road map rather than a treasure map.