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Strong Arts, Strong Schools: The Promising Potential and Shortsighted Disregard of the Arts in American Schooling.

Charles Fowler. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. 227 pp. $27.50.

In Strong Arts, Strong Schools, Fowler makes a compelling, passionate case for the importance of the arts in education. For those who have not journeyed into the arts in education, Fowler's 19 essays follow an exciting route, clearly explaining the basics and highlighting points of interest. Those who work diligently for the arts in education will find historical markers and validation for the continuation and development of arts education. For policymakers, Fowler gives solid evidence and challenging direction for program design and integration.

The book will appeal to a wide range of interests and includes all of the art forms. Fowler does a masterful job of structuring Strong Arts, Strong Schools to meet many needs. The text is divided into four major headings - Conditions, Justification, Curriculum, and Reform - that help readers define where we have been, where we are, and where we need to be going in arts education. Each essay contains a strong knowledge base, combined with a deep philosophical component.

Fowler is adept at synthesizing information and research on a wide range of topics and connecting them to the arts, enabling educators to discuss the arts in a coherent, concise fashion. The text's balance between concrete and analytic information makes a powerful case for the importance of the arts in education.

Strong Arts, Strong Schools is not only a book for arts educators. Fowler consistently intertwines the arts and culture, showing how the arts affect our view of the world. The ties with cultural identity make this book useful for social studies education, psychology, and sociology, as well as many other curriculum areas. Fowler's words serve as a welcome addition for deepening our understanding of students through the artistic process and for helping us face diversity and change in society.

Fowler's case for giving the arts a larger role in education is well substantiated and documented, bringing promise of new and exciting avenues of learning to students. Charles Fowler's last work is his legacy to us all, providing educators with many roads to "cultural identity and cohesiveness" (p. 28) through the arts. As an author, music educator, and arts advocate, Fowler spent his life building a strong case for the arts in our schools. The gift he has left us challenges us all to see, hear, and commit ourselves to the arts as a way to learn about the world and ourselves. In his own words, "perhaps the thing that the arts do best, at their best, is open the doors to learning" (p. 9).

Reviewed by Paula M. Kelberman, Associate Professor, Department of Early Childhood and Elementary Education, East Stroudsburg University, PA
COPYRIGHT 1999 Association for Childhood Education International
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Kelberman, Paula
Publication:Childhood Education
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 22, 1999
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