Thanks, Nick, for your idea to broaden this out and include creativity in general. I agree; this is a broader question than how I posed it.
Back in the Stone Age, when I was in college, I interviewed children about the ages of 7-9 years old. I asked why they thought they could or could not draw.
This question came to me because I had noticed that ALL children draw at an earlier age than these kids. I was curious to find why some began to believe they could not do it well. And stopped.
It seems the disbelief in drawing well came about the same time as the children were learning to write numbers and letters. Praise and correction from their teachers taught them well. But with the right and wrong of writing firmly planted, the tykes came also to learn that dawing too, must be right or wrong. Thus their original freedom and self confidence was changed into a bias; a notion of 'correctness'; a desire to please the adults rather than express their own feelings, their own ideas.
Keeping to the more general topic here; the creativity of children is inadvertantly shaped by learning to write, to stay in the lines, to make straight lines, to make the letters fit the space and immitate the teacher's alphabet model.
I do not suggest that learning letters and numbers is wrong or evil or unnecesary. But as it is taught, teachers need to be aware that learning to conform can also stifle that other, essential part of citizenship, the confidence to believe in yourself. Out of this confidence comes the less-seen notion that I can decide, as an adult, how to view the world and make up my own mind. How many children have grown to adulthood fully convinced that Others are better at deciding things for me?
Ask the question to a group of adults. Can you draw? Do you love to draw?
If all children of an age DO draw, then what has happened when so very many adults say they, "can't draw a straight line"?
It may not be a straight line from alphabets to uninformed citizens...but every journey begins..with a first step.