Sputnik was launched in 1957; the National Educational Defense Act was passed in 1958; the Woods Hole conference that yielded Jerome Bruner's Process of Education was held in 1959. It was a time of anxiety over our scientific and technological competitiveness. In curriculum studies, the watchwords were “disciplinarity” and “the structure of knowledge.” Against this backdrop, Philip Phenix published his comprehensive philosophy of the general curriculum, Realms of Meaning, in 1964.

Responding to the new interest in the epistemo-logical foundations of curriculum, Phenix attempted to counter the narrow emphasis on science and instrumental rationality. (“Empirics” was to become only one of six of his realms of meaning.) Indeed, his defense of meaning as an educational aim can be read as a response to the existential predicament ...

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