Punahou Hosts Creativity and Innovation Expert

In early April, Punahou hosted Barry Kudrowitz, a noted creativity expert from the University of Minnesota, who engaged kindergarten through seventh grade students in dynamic talks and workshops about enhancing creativity through play and humor.

Kudrowitz emphasized the link between play and professional innovation, and how students and educators can integrate these elements into everyday problem solving, particularly through improvisation. Skills valued in improvisational comedy – such as listening, associative thinking and idea manipulation – are also essential for team-based idea generation. 

Kudrowitz noted, “Humor and creativity both involve making non-obvious connections between seemingly unrelated things,” adding that “a playful attitude is helpful in creative problem solving and ideation.” For example, research has demonstrated that improvisational comedians produce more creative ideas than professional designers in idea generation challenges. Additionally, engineers generated more ideas after receiving improvisational training. 

For fourth graders, Kudrowitz also conducted a workshop focused on the creative design process, from problem framing to pitching ideas. This session underscored the significance of rapid iteration and collaborative creativity, leading students through a hands-on activity in transforming their ideas into actionable projects.

Overall, he highlighted the importance of maintaining a playful attitude beyond childhood, particularly in creative, engineering and entrepreneurial fields. “Improv and play are critical for developing entrepreneurial skills,” said Yolanda Lau ’98, a faculty member with the Case Accelerator for Student Entrepreneurship, the program that hosted Kudrowitz. “Like building a scene from scratch, improv and play train entrepreneurs to be adaptable, creative risk-takers who collaborate and tell compelling stories. In short, they’re playgrounds for the entrepreneurial mindset.”

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