I have no idea how to answer this question. Which is interesting, because I have in theory taught it. But the reading that I've done so far for this workshop has reiterated the problem of just how complex all movements are. In analyzing the civil rights movement in one city, in Memphis, you need to engage in understanding the role of and connections between -
- various levels of government and various political parties and factors
- local organizations focused on specific issues - neighborhood associations, women's groups and clubs, etc
- labor organizations and/or unions
- college and university groups
- various church groups and religious denominations
- businesses and business communities
- cultural institutions
- national or regional organizations focused on specific issues
All of these types of organizations divided and multiplied by race and ideology - it gets incredibly complex. And I know I've left stuff out.
I understand why, in teaching children who are presumed to need a simple story, the focus becomes a single person or moment in explaining the changes wrought by these more complex networks. I don't think that kids need the simpler story - we do as adults as well. By making these multidimensional and contested changes into a simple story, we create a narrative that makes the world make sense for our adult needs. And pass that narrative on to the young.
If historical instruction is supposed to give kids the tools to create their own understandings of these kinds of complex movements, how do you provide the tools when the movement is in and of itself too complex for you to understand? And you know it?