The upcoming discussion will update you about the difference between propaganda and education.
1. Education aims to add to the knowledge of individuals and the knowledge that education provides is valuable and desirable in its own right. Education undoubtedly leads to socially desirable action.
Education is looked upon as a basic minimum need, as honest, ethical enlightened and disinterested instruction. Contrary to education propaganda is looked upon as misleading and dishonest.
2. Education has no ulterior or selfish motive like propaganda. The purpose of education is to make the person aware of basic values of life, Reasonable and critical education helps in the exposition of inherent tendencies of a person while the purpose of propaganda is to the self motivate to fulfil some selfish interests.
3. Education helps the man to become reasonable and increases its critical thinking power. Education creates readiness not to be swayed away or misled by suggestion without proper justification.
Education increases the independent thinking and decision making power, teaches a person to perceive what is right and what is wrong which is not found in propaganda. Propaganda tries to hypnotise the person through its various strategies and persuades people to accept the propaganda and change their action in favour of the propagandist.
4. Both, education and propaganda communicate knowledge. But the knowledge communicated through education aims at knowing the truth, making independent judgement. It is devoted to the enquiry of truth and seeks to look at all sides of a complex problem thereby trying to develop the critical faculty of the individual.
But propaganda offers readymade ideas and hence discourages enquiry, or free thinking. Rather its sole purpose is to see that the person accepts him. Thus, in sum, education encourages free thinking and critical analysis of all aspects, while the propagandist discourages free thinking.
5. Propagandist often tries to hide the truth for his own selfish interest, while education places all the positive and negative aspects, pros and cons of any subject matter before the students and this helps in enlightening rather than confusing them.
Propaganda operates by sharpening a biased selection, suppression, emphasis or distortion of relevant data and denies a hearing of the rival approach. Propaganda offers information not to bring the truth to light, rather its all efforts are pointed to conceal the truth and confuse people.
In this confused state, the propagandist manufactures facts, so that the individual cannot distinguish truth from falsehood and taking the advantage of this confused situation and propagandist comes out with his own readymade solution for the public.
6. A propagandist generally intensifies social conflict and likes to fish in the troubled water. Education on the other hand, seeks to resolve the group tension through study and discussion.
7. Education tries to impress upon others to gain things. Even older ideas are transferred to get additional knowledge. But propaganda is convinced with old values.
8. Some have attempted to find out if there is any difference in the cognitive processes involved in education and propaganda. It is argued that propaganda is of two types. Conscious propaganda and unconscious propaganda and the same lecture given by different teachers may be influenced by conscious and unconscious propaganda. One may unconsciously propagate in favour of the value he is going to teach the subjects.
A comparison between Thorndike’s Arithmetic Text Book and an experiment performed by Meyers illustrates the concept of conscious and unconscious propaganda. Thorndikes’ arithmetic text book was written without any conscious intention to influence economic and political beliefs and attitudes. But it strengthened the beliefs and attitudes of people about certain economic practices.
But in Meyer’s experiment named “Control of conduct by suggestion: An experiment in Americanization” not only the soldiers were taught how to write English language, but also quite consciously specific opinions and facts were inserted in the model letters which Meyers thought should become a part of the soldiers’ beliefs and attitudes.
After the letter writing course Meyers found that his model letters not only improved the writing ability of his students, but they had also succeeded in influencing their beliefs and attitudes.
Thus, this was a concealed but conscious propaganda.
Freeman said that Thorndikes experiment was an Unconscious propaganda and Meyer’s conscious propaganda. Kretch and Crutchfield (1948) observe:
“But these distinctions distinguish only between the purpose of Thorndike and Meyers, not between effects of the arithmetic book or the English composition models and not between the nature of the cognitive reorganisation processes that occurred among the students. Thus, so far, as the psychological processes are concerned there is no difference and the essential psychological processes are same involved in both education and propaganda even though there may be a difference between the fundamental process involved in propaganda and non propaganda” say Kretch and Crutchfield.
Propaganda often goes with the tide of current public opinion. But education is never bound by public opinion. It may go against existing public opinion in the interest of some long term or permanent goal. The propagandist always looks for immediate goal.
9. Propaganda cripples intelligence and operates best when it is accepted without any objection or criticism. But the aim of education is to eliminate superstition and establish scientific habit of mind.
10. Education always searches for objectivity while propaganda is very subjective and discourages objectivity.
According to Laswell, education is a process of transmitting skills and accepted attitudes. Propaganda is the transmitting of attitudes that are organised as controversial within a given community. Education is more important than propaganda.
Martin brings out the following distinctions between propaganda and education—
“Although the educator and the propagandist are both concerned with the discrimination of information, they have nothing else in common. They use contrary methods and they strive for opposite goals. The propagandist is interested in what people think, the educator is how they think. The propagandist has a definite aim. He strives to convert, to sell, to secure consent, to prove a case, to support one side of the issue. He is striving for an effect. He wishes people to come to a conclusion to accept his case and close their mind and act. The educator strives for an open mind. He has no case to prove which may not later be reversed. He is willing to be reconsidered, to be experimental and hold his conclusion tentatively.”
However, the other differences between education and propaganda are too deep to be bridged and it is not possible to reconcile between the two. The difference is one of aim, purpose and intent which makes the two unreconcilable.
Propaganda is often pointed out as an instrument of domination and not of enlightenment. In certain types of propaganda, the means are often as vicious as their ends and the spirit is completely authoritarian. To make a propaganda effective the individual tries to talk in terms of contrast situation.