Axis Mundi: A Pedagogical Exploration of the Decolonising Potential of Mythology



Design Education Strategy


  • mythology, constructivism, socio-cognitive pedagogy, design practice, knowledge boundaries, imagination


The postmodern condition is such that economies, globalisation, technologies and societal norms have undergone drastic changes and rapid progressions. All of which has made an undeniable impact on the state and function of contemporary education. In a world now orientated towards a “knowledge-based economy”, it becomes ever more pertinent to grapple with not only how knowledge is defined but also how knowledge is constructed and acquired. The #Decolonise movement makes a call for a knowledge based economy that can be understood as vernacular in nature – knowledge structures that are relatable or relevant to specific regional or cultural origins.

This poses an immense challenge to educators. How do educators equip learners with an educational foundation that incorporates vernacular wisdom in the form of site-specific social, psychological and cultural character as well as prepares students to successfully and meaningfully navigate an increasingly globalised (life)world? One of the significant challenges posed to education by #Decolonise is that of establishing a balance which generates and maintains pedagogical value.

This paper proposes a theoretical exploration which offers potential resolve in the form of Mythology. Mythologies function as cultural narratives which are rife with vernacular wisdom used to gain insights into abstract conceptions and provide pragmatic guidance towards courses of action. Mythologies across cultures manifest similar motifs and morals and in this way mythology may also hold the potential to bridge the gap between vernacular wisdom and universal value.

As such mythology is established in the paper as a socio-cognitive constructivist pedagogy in accordance with the developmental learning theories put forth by Piaget (1977). Through a framework of dialectic and analogy, mythology is employed to explain how decolonised knowledge may be created and acquired.  The argument presented further suggests that this mythological pedagogical approach is possibly already internalised by design practice. This in turn situates design education at the forefront of a decolonised knowledge ecology.

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