This study describes the operational curriculum of arts education (visual arts, music, dance and drama education) in two elementary schools, using a qualitat ive, case-study methodology. The paper presents four orientations of arts education: (a) the Social orientation (arts as community builder); (b) the Subservient to academics orientation; (c) the Affective orientation; (d) the Discipline-based orientation. To understand the roles that the arts serve in the school, one needs to examine larger contexts including the goals and ideology of the school, and teachers' beliefs. An examination of these roles reveals tensions between the traditional functions of the school arts and the push for curricular change in the scholarly literature and state departments of education.
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