Janet, I like your post, and I too prefer something of a more alive practice. When I was in the Army, though, we were trained via perfection of form. Wisdom, skills, and so forth can be found on either path. Moreover, each path has its trappings, especially if one is prone to "this & that" / "right & wrong" thinking; such a person may develop the thought that only this path is right, and that path in particular is wrong.
Not an accusation, BTW - just shamelessly using your post as a launch to clarify my earlier comments :-)
No offense taken, Joe. So let me clarify my thoughts: As a student learning kata I expect to work on mastering a form, not changing it. But as I master the most gross movements, the joy of working on kata is focusing on the nuances and how things change - push vs pull, when and how weight shifts, when timing and rhythm changes - things that won't change the form but will change my performance of it. And I also think that the mark of an exceptional teacher and those responsible for the transmission of an art is to continue to observe critically, explore, refine, and if need be, change.