Finally got around to reading the Louis Menand article in the New Yorker everyone is talking about (and by everyone I mean "creative writers," so, no one important). It seems to me that "Can creative writing be taught?" is fundamentally the wrong/dumb question. (Full disclosure: From here on out I barely address the article. Good news for those who didn't bother to read it. It's mostly about fiction. Also mostly pro-MFA.)
The pertinent question is, "Can creative writing be learned?" or to put it another way, "Can writers get better?" Creative writing isn't an instinct so the answer to the first question is obviously yes. The second seems obviously true as well. I'm a better writer than I was five years ago and I was better then than five years before that and back into my infancy. (Note I didn't say "Do writers get better" since writers can also of course get worse.)
Creative writing programs are just a structured way of getting better, no? Sometimes the instructors facilitate that, sometimes they harm or are beside the point. But the reason you get an MFA is to buy some time (figuratively or literally, depending on funding) to get better, by writing a lot and reading a lot and thinking about writing and talking about writing. Finding out what people like and don't like and whether or not you care. And drinking a lot, probably. (If there were no creative writing programs, people would learn to write by reading.) The results aren't guaranteed, but neither are medical schools guaranteed to turn out good doctors or law schools good lawyers, etc. And yes lots of workshops suck and there are too many programs producing boring poemy "workshop" poetry etc., but that doesn't mean the concept of the workshop is fundamentally flawed or moot.
Do people ask these dumb questions about other arts? "Can film making be taught?" "Can music be taught?" Duh. No one thinks you go to school to learn to be talented. (I hope.) You go to nurture any talent you hope you have and learn the mechanics of the field. And, lest we forget, you go for the NETWORKING!