Listening to Our Students and Transcending K-12 to Save Our Nation

Alec Ostrom, Brian Hack and Don Prentice

Publisher: Xlibris Pages: 438 Price: (paperback) $18.99 ISBN: 9781796078558 Reviewed: May, 2020 Author Website: Visit »

In this volume, educators Alec Ostrom, Brian Hack, and Don Prentice take America’s educational system to task, imploring teachers and communities to re-imagine today’s education. To combat the failures of modern schools, they contend that their Digital Age Learning System® (DALS) program offers authentic, personalized, and practical education for Generation Z.

Current educational structures deliver non-integrated curriculum and outmoded methods of assessment, say the authors. DALS®, instead, assembles a “completely new design and development strategy and guiding principles” based on a Digital Age Skill Sets® checklist: over 50 detailed competencies “common to virtually all jobs and career fields in the United States digital age economy and society.” Examples include an understanding of how organizations are designed, function, and can be changed (Applied Systems Theory) and skills regarding practical living and finance, civic engagement, media analysis, innovative thinking, mindfulness, developing global perspective, and more.

DALS® skills favor collaboration over competition and promote responsible persistence. Learners receive personalized educational programs and gain mastery of competencies through real world application. The desired outcome, the authors state, is a generation of engaged citizens who are passionate, life-long learners thriving in the modern workplace.

The book includes numerous interviews, essays and testimonies from recent high school graduates, dropouts, and educators describing life in the trenches. They underscore the importance of re-training teachers to deliver the DALS® enlightened curriculum.

While a passionate treatise, the book’s jargon-filled prose and verbose anecdotes can be daunting. While these tales of failure and frustration create a powerful sense of urgency for reform, the book’s tone takes on the feel of a sermon and unabashed marketing for the DALS® franchise. Further, DALS® program success requires wide-scale private sector funding with a strong business base. Although many educators would appreciate ideas for integrating more school-to-work real-world engagement, the DALS® requirement for dismantling public school structures is daunting.

The practicality of this system is debatable. Still, educators looking for “hard truths” and a “new pathway will find a compelling case here.

Also available in hardcover and ebook.

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