There is a perfectly reasonable contrary view, though, Michael, that too much emphasis on appreciation and critical study of what others have done can really fill up a curriculum and leave little time for tinkering. If you look at how all the great artists and scientists developed, I think you'll find that all of them experimented in a lot of different directions. That takes time. In classical music, it is widely accepted that one cannot be a composer and a performer (or critic)... it really takes full effort to accomplish one or the other. And we need both, of course.
Even in the physical sciences (my area), in which you'd think that standing on the shoulders of others is the best way to see forward, i.e. through incremental progress, this can be a real issue. As a teacher, I think we have gone waaay to far from experimentalism and learning through direct experience. The result is a generation of students who can google anything but who are terrified of venturing their own attempt at damn near anything. Education has become so 2-dimensional and dry. No seeds for innovation.
There is a beautiful quote by Giaever in his Nobel lecture that goes something like this: I am very fortunate not to have known all the good reasons why I shouldn't have done these experiments. In other words, the prevailing theories suggested that his work wasn't worth doing. But he was "dumb" enough to do them and the results were remarkable.
Obviously balance is always good. Everybody needs the basic schooling and guidance. But I really think that throughout academics, right across the spectrum including arts and science, there isn't nearly enough experimentalism.
I got a bit off the topic, but those are my sincere convictions as a teacher.