Skip PBS navigation bar, and jump to content.
Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

The Film & More
Special Features
People & Events
Teacher's Guide

spacer above content
Teacher's Guide: Hints for the Active Learning Questions


  1. You might want to discuss the reasons for Field's confidence as a class before students begin writing. Possible factors include the faith in his own abilities generated by his earlier business success, his ignorance of the many technical barriers the project faced, his belief in the importance of the cable project to Europe and the United States, his determination to accomplish something that contributed to the general welfare, and his relative youth and energy.

  2. These terms can be older words that have received new meanings (such as "mouse") or terms that have been newly coined (such as "Internet"). Brand names are allowable only if they are commonly used in a generic sense.


  1. In deciding whether they support government financing of the two projects, students might consider these questions: Is this project likely to go forward even if government financing is not provided? Can financing the project give the government useful leverage over the project? Would completion of the project benefit the nation or community as a whole, or just a select part of it? Are other priorities more deserving of the limited supply of public funds?

  2. Students should note that Cyrus Field was himself one of the leading businessmen of the age, and that he later lost much of his fortune in a clash with one of the most ruthless members of that group, Jay Gould. Information on some of the persons listed, such as Andrew Carnegie, J. P. Morgan, and John D. Rockefeller can be found on the American Experience Web site.


  1. On World War I, students might want to focus more narrowly on Allied claims about German crimes against Belgian civilians, the controversy over the German sinking of the passenger ship Lusitania in 1915 (which killed more than 100 Americans), or some similar topic. On the Cuban Missile Crisis, Thirteen Days, by Robert Kennedy, is a classic account by a participant in the crisis. On the issues of US-Muslim relations and terrorism, students may want to find out more about the Arab news organization Aljazeera or Alhurra, an Arabic-language satellite news station financed by the United States government and aimed at improving the United States' image in the Arab world.

  2. An alternative activity for the second group would be to look for recent examples in the news of events that reflect greater unity or continuing division.


  1. For fun, students might want to read portions of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

  2. Maps of various cable routes are available at

page created on 11.30.04
Site Navigation

The Great Transatlantic Cable Home | The Film & More | Special Features | Timeline
Gallery | People & Events | Teacher's Guide

American Experience | Feedback | Search | Shop | Subscribe | Web Credits

© New content 1997-2004 PBS Online / WGBH

The Great Transatlantic Cable American Experience

Exclusive Corporate Funding is provided by: