Propaganda Project Ideas

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Teaching your students about propaganda is an important way to help them become critical thinkers. This lesson offers you some ideas for projects that show how and why propaganda matters.

Why Propaganda Projects?

There are many different reasons to teach students about propaganda. For one thing, once they understand what propaganda is they will be less vulnerable to problematic subliminal messages. For another thing, a good understanding of propaganda will help your students become more active participants in society and will further their understanding of history and culture. Yet, because propaganda is complex and multifaceted, you cannot simply lecture your students about it and expect that they will understand.

One way to really help your students understand propaganda is to incorporate projects into your instruction. Projects will help them learn about propaganda from different angles and use their strengths to maximize their learning. Doing projects related to propaganda will also allow your students the time to think in more detail and apply their understanding to different aspects of their own lives. Finally, project work is often collaborative, and students can learn so much from working with each other. The projects in this lesson are designed to help your students better understand the concept of propaganda.

Propaganda Projects

Find Examples

One of the best ways to help your students understand propaganda is by having them find examples in their everyday lives. Ask your students to become alert to the ways people are trying to get them to believe certain ideas or take on particular outlooks and approaches. You can facilitate this by bringing in your own examples of propaganda, either from the Internet, from television or from newspapers. For instance, students might bring in clippings of newspaper ads designed to make them believe a particular product will change their lives. They can print out political slogans they find on social media pages, or report in on political advertisements they saw on television. Once your students get the hang of it, ask them to spend two weeks collecting examples of propaganda. They can either bring in excerpts or print-outs, or, in other cases, write down examples in a log in their notebooks. Then, break your students into small groups to create propaganda collages. On large poster boards, they should display the different kinds of propaganda they have discovered. As they work, have them reflect on how this propaganda impacts them and how it felt to go through life more alert to examples of propaganda.

Create Propaganda

In this project, students work from the other side, thinking about what it might be like to create propaganda for a particular cause or idea. Have your students break up into small groups. Each group should choose a cause or idea that they want to get others to believe in. Then, they should create a propaganda campaign, or a list of at least five strategies they would use to bring others to their opinion or cause. Finally, have them choose at least one of these strategies to enact. This might mean creating posters, or it might mean incorporating a certain way of speaking into their daily vocabulary. Have students reflect on what they learned about propaganda from working on this project.

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