6 Activities for Teaching About Advertising

In her newest TEDx talk, Educating for Freedom, IHE President Zoe Weil highlights how our culture inundates us with marketing and advertising every day, telling us we won’t be happy or successful or sexy or worthy unless we buy what they have to offer, and hiding from view all the suffering, oppression, and exploitation that are inherent in many ads and their products and services. She also emphasizes the need to provide students with the tools to free themselves from the pull of such advertising and to help them become conscious citizens able to discern, think critically, and make choices based on their own values.

We can help both children and adults protect and empower themselves from marketing and advertising. Here are 6 humane education activities that can help:
  1. Analyzing Advertising
    Students learn to be ad-savvy by exploring the pervasiveness of ads in their lives and by analyzing what ads are trying to sell…and trying to hide.
    Recommended for grades 5 and up.
    Time: 45-60 minutes
  2. Be a C.R.I.T.I.C.
    Participants learn and use the C.R.I.T.I.C. technique to enable them to bring critical thinking skills to any information they receive, whether from industry, non-profits, government, or media.
    Recommended for grades 6 and up.
    Time: 30-45 minutes
  3. It Ads Up
    This activity explores: How do ads influence us? What strategies do ad designers use to target different groups of people? How can we recognize those strategies and our own triggers?
    Recommended for grades 8 and up.
    Time: 30-45 minutes
  4. Not So Fair and Balanced: Analyzing Bias in the Media
    This lesson plan helps high school students take a closer look at prejudices, the biases that media contain and perpetuate (such as in what they do and don't report on, or how particular genders or ethnicities are portrayed), and the ways we are influenced by those media biases.
    Recommended for grades 9 and up.
    Time: One week of 45 minute class periods
  5. Take Two
    Unveil the manipulation inherent in marketing and corporate branding and awaken the creativity of your students by having them explore commercials aimed at them and then empowering them to create new commercials with a positive message.
    Recommended for grades 8 and up.
    Time: Two class periods, one week apart
  6. We Have You Surrounded
    We're surrounded by marketing and advertising telling us what to buy, who to be, what we need to be happy. Use this series of activities to help students explore issues of branding, marketing, and globalization.
    Recommended for grades 9 through 12.
    Time: Several weeks 
~ Marsha

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