Posted on Tuesday, November 13th, 2012 by Masha Arbisman
We’ve all asked that tantalizing question… What if? What if the Cuban Missile Crisis had boiled over into full scale war? Clouds Over Cuba asks that question with a new, innovative and completely brilliant way for students, history buffs, or absolutely anyone, to learn about the Cuban Missile Crisis.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the crisis that almost engulfed the world in nuclear war – and also quite aptly in year when similar noises are being made by Iran – the J.F.K. Presidential Library has treated us with a very modern way for people to engage with the events and society around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Narrated by actor Matthew Modine, Clouds Over Cuba centers around a film following the unfolding of the Crisis behind the scenes.
It intertwines the video with recordings of secret ExComm meetings, letters between JFK and Khrushchev, and other material, enabling you to “attend” the meetings and receive the communications as if you were there. Clouds Over Cuba also features a frightening short film that takes place in an alternate 2012 in which the Cuban Missile Crisis escalated into nuclear war 50 years earlier!
With its ability to be streamed over computer, iPad, iPhone, and pretty much any web or mobile device, Clouds Over Cuba could be a great opportunity for a tech savvy teacher to capture the hearts and minds of their students. Any student with a smartphone / tablet can upload all the video / audio content and documents right into their hand too.
Back in my Middle and High School days (ie. back in those ancient pre-smartphone times!), I can only remember feeling at best disengaged – and at worst, simply bored – by the boring videos and worksheets filled with endless questions that constituted learning about the Cuban Missile Crisis. In fact, if I’m honest, until I worked my way through Clouds Over Cuba, I didn’t even remember half of what actually happened!
So teachers, this program really could be an efficient and successful learning tool: it addresses audiences in an auditory, visual, and oral manner, if teachers want to add some kind of worksheet that would cover tactical as well. It ticks all the teaching / learning boxes, so there is something for every type of student to take away.
I am neither a student anymore, nor an old history buff. Truth is, I’m just someone who enjoys learning new information especially about my culture/roots. True the history was great, but it was also particularly interesting to think of the Cuban Missile Crisis in terms of how wrong things could have actually gone. Clouds Over Cuba’s ‘What If?’ video is a must watch!
With the depth and insight of the JFK Presidential Library’s footage, you may even find your previously held viewpoints changed: I remember learning that Kennedy’s advisers were the ones to keep us away from war, but the documentary strongly showed that this was not the case!
To the modern thinking teacher, history buffs, or people who just want to learn something, I highly suggest spending a couple of lunch breaks or a family movie night at home watching Clouds over Cuba.