The Mythopoetics of Curriculum
- Mary Aswell DollMary Aswell DollProfessor Emerita, Savannah College of Art and Design
Mythopoetics is a way of reading ideas for their connection to the basic stories known as myths, as well as to poets, writers, and educators concerned with self and culture. The mythopoetic method seeks understanding from the metaphors which myths and literature present. Ideas contain images, which offer insight into the language of the depth dimension. Psychology, whose root word is “psyche” (not “brain”), studies the expressions of the unconscious self in all its forms and deviations; and curriculum urges study of the various educational disciplines for understanding how they shape individual histories and identities. Psychology, education, and curriculum share Latin roots meaning “soul,” “leading out,” and “running within,” respectively. The confluence of these areas suggest that the real subject of education is the student’s subjectivity. The project of being human is understanding the self’s connection with the energy exchanges brought about through basic opposites, such as human–other, human–society, and human–environment relations. Two key ideas about which curriculum scholars theorize are the impact of place (and displacement) on individuals, first, and how alterity is envisioned both by self and from others (second). Writers, poets, and dramatists share curriculum’s concern with subjectivity formation by offering insight into the impact of place and alterity on the development (or repression) of consciousness. By discussing these two concepts through the lens of mythopoetics, there are many avenues for viewing the self, how it can be “led out,” what histories and social codes have influenced identity formation, and ways to access the hidden self by regressing into memory depths. The power of poetics is that it releases people from the stranglehold of their normalcy, bigotry, and hardheadedness. Curriculum scholars often write on the American South and its vexed race relations, for instance, as a necessary place to examine motive and repressions, whereas depth psychologists consider the South as the direction of the depth dimension, where one’s own Other, the alterity that needs access, resides. A mythopoetics of curriculum, then, uses literature as a means of analysis and synthesis in the formation of the self.