Imagine you’re at an elementary school and you have 3 teacher’s to choose from that includes teacher “X”, teacher “Y” and Mr. Barzo. Teacher “X” and teacher “Y” operate out of their head/box and are very linear, structured and serious. They follow their lesson plans, keep the class quiet and orderly, work off a Smartboard the majority of class and have assigned seating. Nothing spontaneous happens during the normal day in that it could break up the routine.

While Mr. Barzo is unstructured, unpredictable, non-linear and funny. He had lesson plans but they changed day to day, his classes were loud, he rarely worked off a board and didn’t have assigned seating. Spontaneity is always present which includes Mr. Barzo climbing on the chalk board, going under seats, talking in crazy voice, telling jokes all throughout the normal classroom time. The question is what teacher will you remember?

I was in Mr. Barzo’s class over thirty years ago and I still remember his name, his face, his class, his antics and stories when I went to school at Century Oaks. Century Oaks is an elementary school located in Elgin, Illinois and has grades K-6 in it. There are countless teachers in that school and the only teacher that comes to my mind 30 years later is Mr. Barzo.

This isn’t to say the other teachers at this school didn’t do a good job or influence my life because they did. However, they didn’t make a lasting impression on me as Mr. Barzo did. My point is if we want to make a difference, stand out and be creative we must SMASH THE BOX and get out of our head/box. If we strictly operate from our intellect we lose touch with our emotions, senses and subconscious state which are all vital to the creative process.

In closing, I actually went back to Century Oaks about 10 years ago and stopped by Century Oaks in the summer as I was visiting. As I walked around my old elementary school I went inside and found a receptionist sitting at the desk. I asked her if Mr. Barzo was still there teaching and her face light up. She said yes he was and went on say how the kids loved him and he was the most popular teacher in the building. She also noted that there was a waiting list for his classes and only a select few could get in due to his popularity. Mr. Barzo SMASHES THE BOX and his impact on his students will live on for years to come.