Book Reviews

The Shaping School Culture Fieldbook

by Kent D. Peterson and Terrence E. Deal

Reviewed by Leonard H. Elovitz
Assistant Professor of Instruction and Educational Leadership, Kean University, Union, N.J.

The Shaping School Culture Fieldbook by Kent D. Peterson, a professor of educational administration at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Terrence Deal, a professor of education at the University of Southern California, serves as a companion and implementation guide to their earlier book, Shaping School Culture: The Heart of Leadership.

In this era of educational change, the authors believe school culture really matters and busy principals must devote a good deal of time to it.

The book is set up like a workbook with more than 40 activities to be performed or facilitated by the principal. Much of the book is devoted to empty lines that are provided for the completion of the exercises. Some activities require the leader to become introspective regarding his or her actions relative to the culture of the school. Others involve engaging the faculty, students and/or parents in discussions and analysis of the school’s culture. Some activities are rather trivial (“If my school were an animal, it would be a ... .”). Most are thought provoking, particularly those dealing with assessing and transforming what Peterson and Deal call “toxic cultures.”

The book would be useful to central-office administrators because many of the exercises can be applied to assessing and transforming the culture of school districts as well as school buildings.

(The Shaping School Culture Fieldbook, by Kent D. Peterson and Terrence E. Deal, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, Calif., 2002, 140 pp. with index, $29 softcover)