Though I have never met Dr. Earl Reum, I have heard nothing but good things about him from John Namey and Connie Miley, leaders of the Ohio Association of Student Councils (OASC). Dr. Earl Reum's focus is on Activity Directors--the people who work with students, develop them as leaders, and understand them. They are the people who get experiential learning. The following link is a video, Perfect 10-- Earl Reum: Speaker, Educator, Mentor, that gives you just a little bit of insight into Dr. Earl Reum's life and the charisma in which he inspires those around him to inspire others. The title of the video could not be more accurate and I believe his lessons go way beyond activity development. They are 100% applicable to the teaching profession and pretty much every other area of life.
OASC is an organization directed at older students (6th-12th grade), but the the style in which they approach leadership development is similar to best practices in any classroom--- students learn from experiential learning and they are asked to reflect upon their experience and build knowledge and skills through this reflection.
Personally, I would be an entirely different person without OASC in my life. As a 6th grader I was still very shy and not very sure of myself. Thanks to OASC my ackward middle school years (which let's face it, went well beyond middle school) were not that bad. OASC taught me to be myself, to be confident in my abilities, to learn from change and failure, and to be goal-oriented. OASC helped me realize that leaders are developed, they do not magically appear---just as I believe students develop as learners.
As I grew through the OASC program and my school, extra-curricular, and work experiences I learned the power of facilitation, self- evaluation and reflection, to ask questions, give and receive constructive criticism, and to make sure to have plenty of fun. Surprise! Guess what are the most important skills I use in the classroom? The same skills I learned at OASC and through extra-curricular activities in HS and college. My experience outside of the classroom, in my opinion, has been more valuable than my experience inside of the classroom (which, of course, is important to).
As a classroom teacher, I need to remember the value of experiential learning. Experiential learning is more than just field trips---it should be an continuous occurring experience. It should not be pushed aside. Hands-on activities, project based approaches will undoubtedly add chaos to my future classroom, and I am sure at times will be an approach that is criticized. Experiential learning is worth fighting for and my students now and in the future deserve it. It seems like the students who need experiential learning opportunities the most are the same students who are forced to sit still in a desk and get talked at all day--the ones that are taught through worksheets. I will not be that teacher. I refuse to. I have OASC and many other activities and people to thank for that.