6 good reasons to teach about propaganda

This article is part of Propaganda

Propaganda is a type of media content that teachers shouldn’t ignore in the classroom. Discover 6 good reasons to make your students resilient against propaganda.

Propaganda is still prevalent today

Too many people think that propaganda is a thing of the past, something that only the nasi Germans used. But in reality, propaganda is evergreen. Until today, youngsters can encounter it in countless ways. The chance is even higher today: social media help propaganda spread faster than ever, often in the form of memes.

Propaganda isn’t always easy to recognise

Propaganda can take many different forms. Sometimes it resembles news, information, or entertainment. We aren’t always aware that we are seeing propaganda. Especially when we agree with the message, we are unlikely to label it as such. It’s important for youngsters to learn how to recognise propaganda, so that they can assess the contents of the message with the necessary caution.

Propaganda suppresses critical thinking

Propaganda often evokes strong emotions like anger, fear or grief. This is one of several effective techniques propaganda uses to convince people: strong emotions keep us from thinking clearly and rationally about a message. The critical mind is suppressed, which makes us more likely to accept false information as true. A critical stance is a crucial part of being ‘media-wise’. 

Advertising and propaganda are not the same: advertising aims to make money, while propaganda wants to sway the public opinion. But both formats have in common that they want to convince their audience of something. They often use the same techniques to achieve that. Youngsters need to understand when information is trying to persuade them, whether that’s in advertising or in propaganda.

Propaganda is part of the democratic process

As soon as youngsters are old enough to form and voice a political opinion, propaganda plays an important role in shaping it. Political debates on television, advertising on social media and posters on the street all influence voter behaviour. In that sense, learning about propaganda is part of responsible citizenship

Propaganda carries real risk

Propaganda can erode people’s trust, create confusion and cloud observation. Individuals or entire population groups can also be harmed because of propaganda, for example when it escalates into hate speech or (in extreme cases) murder.

Propaganda: 9 educational ideas

Looking for tangible lesson content? Let these creative ideas inspire your teaching. 

Published on 16 October 2023