The Free Press, Mankato, MN

April 26, 2013

Creativity workshop encourages home-schooled kids to be “dumb”

By Amanda Dyslin
The Free Press

MANKATO — “Dumb” gets such a bad rap. 
We’re all taught so early on not to be ambiguous. “Everything should make sense.”
Pete Bloedel has made a career out of the opposite being true. Foolishness, he admits proudly, is his business.
Creativity is about letting the brain play, he said. “It’s about not bringing the judge in yet.”
The Bethany Lutheran College theater professor led a creativity session as part of a daylong theater workshop for about 25 area home-schooled children at the college Friday. He did a few magic tricks, and with the help of props, he challenged the kids and their parents to think “dumb.”
“What is this?” he asked, holding a multicolored ball.
“It’s a chair.” “It’s a weapon.” “It’s a flotation device.”
Then Bloedel asked a few “What if?” questions to keep their creative minds going. 
What if men had babies?
“They’d have to come up with a new line of men’s maternity clothing.”
“There would be a lot of people sitting out of the NFL.”
What if we had 33 hours in a day?
“People would get a lot more sleep.”
“We’d actually have time to finish a game of Monopoly.”
Bloedel said being creative is about asking these kinds of questions and allowing the silly ideas to flow. The best ideas can come from those moments, he said.
Bloedel proved that a few years ago when he asked, “What would happen if William Shakespeare was Dr. Seuss?” He wrote a play, “The Seussification of Romeo and Juliet,” which put a wild, rhyming, creative twist on the famous Shakespeare play. It has since been published and performed more than 1,800 times worldwide, he said. 
“It’s about trying things,” he said.
Hailey Rausch — a sixth-grader from Prior Lake who owns her own face-painting business — said Bloedel was pretty funny, but also really uplifting. And she said she took an important lesson away from his session.
“Don’t be afraid to be dumb,” she said.
Exactly what Bloedel had in mind.
“Fools!” he said. “Yeah!”