OS57: Abel McClennen – Envisioning a New School for a New Society in Costa Rica

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Perhaps no other category of our society is in more desperate need of idealism than education. For many students, the schooling experience is one of severe anxiety and worry, of toxic and constant comparisons to others (via “grades”), the digestion and regurgitation of facts that seem far from being truly relevant to real life in our world today. Does this traditional system honor the innate gifts in a child, expressed as his or her excitement? Are we fostering innovation and inspiration, or are we building a dour workforce distanced from the truest sparks within? Envisioning then a new sort of school which allows a child to choose whatever path excites him or her seems to be of paramount importance. Along with a handful of friends, Abel McClennen helped found the La Paz Community School in Brasilito, Costa Rica some 11 years ago. Was there a way to bring foreign-born and local kids together, under the same roof, and build a school that prepared all of them for the rapidly changing world? Could this endeavor help the very diverse community come together? Could a school become akin to a community center, where all were welcome and encouraged to gather and realize their inherent sameness? Thus far, the experiment is working. What emerged in this conversation with Abel is not only a visionary, who is serving the world by helping to create an entirely new format for educating young people, but also a man on a mission, following his own excitement and passion. The combination is riveting. As you will see in this interview, Abel’s love for his path pours into his every word. His excitement is palpable. Perhaps then what we are witnessing within the microcosm of La Paz is the true answer to the challenges of the world. Follow your excitement, what calls to you, and witness what creates itself via this simple axiom. After speaking with Abel, and experiencing the wondrous co-creation that he leads, it’s clear that embodying this and passing this along to young people is an event worth celebrating. In fact, it could be the most important work happening on earth today. We are deeply honored to feature Abel’s story, and his important work, in our series. Enjoy!