I don't think they kill it, but they certainly don't foster it.
However, I don't believe it is necessarily the responsibility of our public schools to generate creativity. It is however, the responsibility of our teachers and individual school administrators as the influencer's of our young minds, to encourage creativity and more importantly individualism and humanity on a student by student basis.
Vast structure and systematic progression often discourages creativity and innovation. Math is math. Spelling is spelling. Elementary educational elements must be addressed before we look to build out "fluff". You cannot build a rocket ship if you don't have a factory that makes metal. True manufacturing metals doesn't require the same ingenuity, but it essential nonetheless.
Perhaps the greatest issue is our drive to leave no child behind. Our focus and emphasis on "keeping up" with the standards imposed often diverts energy from "driving for excellence."
I would like to propose that our issue is not structural, but it is in our structure. Our structure and reportability is all about hard numbers. 55 is a passing grade, over a 90 puts you on Deans list. 90 percent graduate rates and 5 percent incremental improval year of year is considered success.
Moral fiber, creativity, innovation, expression. These are all values we encourage, but they cannot be imparted through structural education. We need to employ national wiggle room in our systems. We need a national endowment for "wiggle" time. We need to empower teacher to guide the lives of their student, not just to teach them how to add and subtract. The arts are only one form of expression. We need to bring back shop, woodworking and community service as formalized classes.
CASE IN POINT: My college roommates' high school required that each student work an hour a day on a Senior Project. These projects were creatively driven and students took an amazing amount of pride in their work. Their projects were lightly graded for academic structural purposes, but the emphasis was on creativity and ingenuity. Some students produced their own films, some painted art for local galleries or school lounges, one student recorded a CD, my friend worked for a non-profit mentoring underprivileged students. While everyone else was ditching school, taking Advanced Placement exams or participating in work-study programs, this school was teaching innovation. This should be a mandatory bi monthly program in every school across the country.
Our school shouldn't be graded on their "creativity and ingenuity" metrics for success, as their primary purpose is to teach our children to spell, add and appreciate history. They should however, be encouraged to create an environment that fosters and awards excellence, be it in the classroom or beyond.
Kudos to David Armano for sharing this amazing video.