Propaganda Used Throughout History

For my generative question, I want students thinking about how the state uses resources in order to aggrandize themselves.  This can be applied to ancient empires, the United States (Particularly in WWII, Cold War, etc), Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, etc.  I like this question because it’s applicable in World and US History and can be applied today.

This will involve fining documents and allowing students to think about why the state (whoever they may be learning about) would produce such a document.  Why would this benefit them?  Of course with the historical context hopefully provided by the class, the students will be able to hypothesize why the state would produce these documents.

Hopefully this allows the students to have a better understanding of how the people of a certain age or nation were thinking throughout history and also the decision process that state/government was making at the time.  Furthermore, students will also be able to understand how and why propaganda may be used today throughout the world.

2 Replies to “Propaganda Used Throughout History”

  1. I personally find propaganda very interesting; translating that interest to the students will the difficult part. Two thoughts I had: 1) Making the lesson relevant and 2) How are you going to go about providing historical context?

    1) I think a great way to make the lesson relevant for the students would be to find modern examples – something that they could potentially relate to.
    2) Obviously you can find lots of propaganda from all over the world, but how are you planning on presenting the historical context of the documents? Will the students know enough to understand the real meaning behind the propaganda? My only suggestion, if you get to a spot where you have a lot of documents but not enough time to adequately present them in history, would be to narrow your focus. Though, that’s not necessary with the right about of planning.

    1. You’re absolutely right with both of your points. It’s going to be a challenge to provide relevant materials. I like your idea in comparing historical propaganda materials to more modern examples. I think that would be a great way to make the material more relevant.

      As for providing historical context, I was thinking of these lessons of being part of a broader historical unit. For example, during WWII you could present Nazi Germany propaganda, American propaganda, etc as part of a lesson. Then if you were doing a unit on the Cold War you could present propaganda from the Soviet Union, America, etc. I was thinking of using this lessons as part of the unit and hopefully the other lessons can provide enough historical context for the students to understand the use of propaganda. Maybe this wouldn’t work as well with younger kids as it would with High Schoolers though.

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