The child care yard is gloriously dirt filled. Children dig, scrape, haul, contain, spill, mix, liquify, pound, and mound dirt. Dirt travels to cover arms, hands, faces, feet, clothing, hair, and is sometimes tasted, licked and swallowed. Dirt transforms to mud, to dust, to solid hard pack and back again. Refusing to be orderly, it shifts with time and circumstance. We are of dirt and dirt is of us, yet we continue to try and sweep, clean, wash, and shake dirt out of our lives. Dirt cannot be (easily) restrained or contained.
Anthropologist Mary Douglas stated that dirt is “matter out of place” and wrote: “For us dirt is a kind of compendium category for all events which blur, smudge, contradict, or otherwise confuse accepted classifications. The underlying feeling is that a system of values which is habitually expressed in a given arrangement of things has been violated” (cited in Campkin, 2013, p. 49). I am inspired to follow dirt and to dig into pedagogies that transgress, overflow, boundary cross. Thinking with dirt opens up spaces to resist orderly truths and become comfortable with the messy, mucky uncertainties of living.
Campkin, B. (2013) Placing “Matter Out of Place”: Purity and Danger as Evidence for Architecture and Urbanism, Architectural Theory Review, 18:1, 46-61, DOI:10.1080/13264826.2013.785579