Imitative, Complementary, and Expansive: Three Roles of Visual Arts Curricula

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Based on a three-year ethnographic study in three elementary schools (Stake, Bresler, and Mabry, 1991), this paper identifies three distinct orientations in visual arts curricula: the rote, teacher-centered orientation; the open-ended student-centered orientation; and the higher-order cognitive orientation. Each of these orientations implies different assumptions about the nature of art and arts education. Each shares different views of teaching and learning, implying its own set of goals, contents, pedagogies, and evaluation practices. The first orientation is imitative, perpetuating the general academic curriculum in its goals and structures; the second is complementary, trying to compensate for teachers' perceptions of an imbalanced academic curriculum; the third is expansive, aiming to enhance the curriculum in ways that are advocated in the scholarly literature, and incorporate into it a variety of intelligences and modes of thinking.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)90-104
Number of pages15
JournalStudies in Art Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1994


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