Educator’s Guide

Ways to use the Turmoil and Triumph website and film in your classroom:

1. Have students view Turmoil and Triumph excerpts from the Video Showcase section of this website. Then ask students to pick an excerpt and come up with a topic for further research on the material covered in the segment. For example, a student selecting a video on 1980s trade relations with Japan might choose to write about: current U.S. trade relations with Japan or China; protectionism v. free trade; and/or a more in-depth history of U.S.-Japanese trade relations during the 1980s including concerns over “trade imbalances”. Another example might be to watch the clip on the Iran-Contra affair and investigate for a class presentation.

2. Have students watch “The Art of Listening: A Conversation Between Mikhail Gorbachev and George Shultz.” Explore the following questions:

  1. What was the Soviet Union?
  2. Who is Mikhail Gorbachev?
  3. Who was Ronald Reagan?
  4. Who is George Shultz and what was his relationship to Ronald Reagan?
  5. Why did the Soviet Union collapse?
  6. How did Gorbachev and Shultz make the world safer?
  7. What do Gorbachev and Shultz agree about today?
  8. On what matters do Gorbachev and Shultz seem to disagree today?
  9. How has talk between world leaders furthered the interests of peace? (Is there a time when leaders shouldn’t talk?)
  10. What is the “art of listening”?
3. Direct students to Freedom’s Spring: A Cold War Timeline 1980-1990. Have students each pick one event from the timeline for further research—culminating in student class presentations for that decade of Cold War history. Have students recreate the timeline by lining up at the front of the class to give their reports to you (sitting down). This will represent each event’s place in history and give them a chance to ‘be the teacher’ for a few minutes.

4. As a class, view the full segment in Turmoil and Triumph on the summit at Reykjavik.

a) Discuss the idea of mutually assured destruction (MAD) in the context of the Cold War.
b) Review/discuss the negotiations including what was at stake and who the players were.
c) Recreate the summit with a mock classroom negotiation.

5. Assign your class to watch Turmoil and Triumph (this will take 3 hours if you watch the documentary in its entirety). Have students write an essay on some aspect of the film. Here are some suggested essay topics:

Cold War

  • Compare and contrast the difference between U.S.-Soviet relations from the time Secretary of State George Shultz first took office in 1982 and when he left office in 1988. Highlight events that lead to the changes in that relationship.

  • President Reagan and Secretary Shultz left office in 1988. The Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. To what extent were the changes in Russia and Eastern Europe a result of the actions of the Reagan administration? To what extend were these events due to other events?

  • In 1996, Mikhail Gorbachev confided in George Shultz that, to his mind, the Cold War ended at the summit in Reykjavik. Explain, using your best interpretive skills, why you think Gorbachev concludes this.

International Issues (non-Cold War)

  • Who is Corazon Aquino? How did she come to power and how did her leadership turn out?

  • Why do some consider the bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon to be an important, but overlooked, foreshadowing of 9/11? What did George Shultz learn from that event that informs his views on international relations?

  • What was the Iran/Contra affair? What does this event mean when it comes to the age-old question: “Do the ends justify the means?”

  • What was George Shultz’s life after the Reagan presidency? Discuss some of his policy positions, activities and influence through further research.

Take a Position

  • Agree or disagree with the following statement: “George Shultz could have done more to prevent the Iran-Contra affair.” Explain your position.

  • Agree or disagree with the following statement: “The United States was justified in the 1983 invasion of Grenada.” Explain your position.

  • Agree or disagree with the following statement: “Ronald Reagan should not have turned his back on Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, because he was a friend and trusted ally against the threat of communism.” Explain your position.

  • Agree or disagree with the following statement: “Free trade with Japan during the Reagan years was, on net, a good thing for both the people of U.S. and Japan.” Explain your position.

  • Who was the most effective secretary of state in the 20th Century? Explain.

  • Agree or disagree with the following statement: “George Shultz consistently breaks partisan stereotypes.” Explain your position.
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