By: Esperanza Chacón

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Marco was eleven years old when he insisted that he no longer wanted to stayed in the conventional educational system, it was becoming more and more difficult for him to continue attending school. His family was inquiring not only about other places, but about another system that respected the needs of the child.

His aunt told them that there was a Montessori school that was located in San Mateo near Orotina, with this information the family decided to go and visit the school, and in the process they held dialogues with the people in charge of Casa Sulà.
Marco’s family carried out the formal procedures for his enrollment in Casa Sulà. He joined this free school as soon as possible since that was the pedagogical recommendation. This happened just two months before the end of the school year.

Q. Why did you decide to get out of a conventional system and go to a free school?

Marco.- I did not feel well in the traditional school, I no longer wanted to continue attending, because I did not understand why I had to sit most of the time at a desk, repeating or answering what the teacher wanted to hear. I always wanted to do other more interesting things. As a child I wanted to play, I felt imprisoned, and there were times when I was very stressed. Besides, it didn’t seem useful to have to learn things that didn’t interest me.  

So I wondered why attend activities and topics that have not been of interest to me or that I have chosen? It is clear that in a traditional school they teach you so many things, but they do not focus on you as a person who has their own needs, it is useless to sit for seven hours listening to topics that you do not like, this does not make sense because later you forget them.

When I talked to my parents about whether to continue in school or not, it was at the end of the sixth grade and at the beginning of the seventh. My aunt found this place that she told us was a Montessori school, I did not know what it was about, but we did the calculations of the distance and it was the same time to go to the old school as to Casa Sulà. I think I asked with such force, that I feel that I really motivated them to find a solution, they for their part supported me, trusting that there must be a place where I would feel good. The day I met Casa Sulà I liked it, it caught my attention that the boys and girls were free, each one in his own way, this surprised me, they weren’t sitting listening to an adult all at the same time, I realized that in Casa Sulá there were activities everywhere as in any home, because just Sulà is like a big house (there are no classrooms).

Although the decision was to be made by my mom and dad, it was necessary for me to visit, then all I did was insist that they sign me up and take me there, the good thing was that they liked it too. On this occasion I met Edgar (companion) and Marcelo (one of the parents) who gave us the information and told us that they were going to accept me.

Q. Do you think it was a wise decision for your personal development? Why?

Marco.- Obviously yes, for me it was a decision that changed my life forever, because it was not just about attending another school, I realized that here I felt that I was growing the way I wanted. Almost three years have passed and I realize that it is never too late to make the changes we want, it would have been sad if they had not received me, because in this place I have been happy, I have done what I have wanted, in a positive sense! I have matured!

Also, not only we acquire information, but our Being develops, I don’t know if you understand me, but I’m fine with me, before, I didn’t have this feeling, to be fine! Because like I said, I was stressed. Yes, that has to do with my personal development, I am different from whom I was before.

Q. How was your adaptation process?

Marco.- Look at the freedom, that is, what it means a relaxed atmosphere, gives you peace of mind to choose what you want to do and how to do it, this possibility does not exist in a traditional school. So, for anyone who is in a free school, their life will be different and you will also have to take responsibility for what you do, and what you want to learn.

Now I see it more clearly, maybe I am older to realize what it is about, this is why it is important to talk with adults naturally, I mean with confidence, to be able to find ideas that support us to do things for ourselves, this is something I continue to work on. In fact, to date I have had a hard time doing things myself, making decisions, because in freedom you are relaxed and you see it as rest, when the reality is, that these are moments when you can also be doing things for yourself. It is necessary to change the way we think.

For example, what I have just was a challenge for me, because in a traditional school every moment of the day, they tell you what to do, and how to do it. For me it was complex especially when I had to get rid of all the ideas of waiting to be told what to do, when you think and feel differently you start to act with your motivation, there a new life begins.  

Q.- What kind of support do you think is convenient for a boy or girl to become integrated in Casa Sulà?

Marco.- I feel that the freedom and trust that your parents have in you, greatly influences you. In my experience, I did not know what to do, neither at home nor on vacation, but when you are free, you can do things from your own intuition (desire), not because others force you or tell you what to do, this is one of the changes that happened, I asked myself “what do I want to do?” Everyone needs to feel what is it they want to do with their time.

Since I started with this educational system, I realize, that ideas have surfaced to occupy my time, but without feeling pressured, or because I must or have to do it as tasks that will fulfilled or satisfy the expectations of other people, even if they are my parents.

Q. What benefits do you feel that a young person your age has in a free school?

Marco.- I want to understand the question like this, if it benefits young people to attend a free school? I think so, of course it does, for which it is necessary to take the above into account, that is to say that adaptation takes time, and it is not as easy as one imagines, because sometimes you have the wrong idea that in a free school everything is wild-rumpus, everyone there just rests … Yes, there is resting, but this motivates us to look for what we want to do. Sometimes, I felt that I had time to get bored, and that for that same reason, I was looking for things to do so as not to be bored. It is also important to feel how you want to live your life, or if you are happy with what you have.

At Casa Sulà they let you develop yourself as you want, you are the one who decides, that is what helped me, and I am the one who sets the pace, I can go faster or slower depending on what I feel. So for me, those are concerns that we have, only that sometimes you don’t want to look at yourself.

Q. Would you go back to the conventional educational system?

Marco.- I would not return! Because the change is great, for me now it is difficult to accept that others direct me. I have already left that system, so I do not see that I would ever want to return. In addition, after having known a different way of living in which I have felt comfortable, because I do what I want in the best sense of the words, that is, to want to do something that arises from your interest and moves you, which gives you the feeling of well-being, which I already said; no, I wouldn’t, because now my happiness depends on myself.

P. Would you recommend to parents to try a free education for their sons and daughters?

Marco.- Of course I would, because I feel that it helps your growth, because you are free, this has greatly influenced my personal security and in my relationship with other people. Although in these questions I can tell my experience in short (synthesis), I have much more to tell.

First, I recommend that you do not underestimate what your sons and daughters tell you, no matter how young they are, sometimes it is thought that children due to their immaturity do not know what they want, but the parents have to take into account that their children are growing. However, when we are not listened to, we feel that they do not love us, and for a child it is important to feel that there is understanding in our families.

San Mateo-Costa Rica

June 2021