This paper will look at the conceptual understandings of design education in South Africa with reference to the Fenwick monogram (2001). Learning, according to Fenwick, is categorised into five perspectives: constructivist, critical cultural, psychoanalytic, situative, and enactivist.
The focus of this paper will be on the first three perspectives. Constructivist theory underlies Outcomes Based Education (OBE), which is the system prescribed for education in South Africa. The essentials of OBE and constructivism will be analysed within a design education environment. The critical cultural perspective will be discussed because of the importance of critical thinking in design education. The psychoanalytic perspective is discussed because of its social relevance in a South African society. The other two perspectives are debated shortly. I will conclude with the argument that OBE refers to important aspects of learning, but in a design environment in South Africa, it is necessary to identify specific focal points needed to move design education forward.