Using construction is kind of similar to what you are saying (I think).
You are using reference to draw but you aren't drawing the person in your reference, you are drawing simple 3D shapes that resemble the model. Then you are adding smaller 3d shapes and anatomical details to trick people into thinking you actually drew a person instead of a 3d mannequin.
For a good likeness you have to go back to 2d shape design to get it exactly right but you can do that on top of the 3d mannequin you made.
I think it is a good conditioning technique to abstract and separate what you see vs what you are drawing. You always categorising what you see into pre-existing compartments in your head, these compartments are constructed and maintained by studying.
It's funny that the first thing you learn is that symbol drawing is bad. What they should actually say is that your current method of symbol drawing is bad and we need to reset you so you can learn a good method of symbol drawing, involving both 2d and 3d symbols.