The cruel politics of textbooks

Our textbooks have mirrored successive governments’ visions and hopes—with teachers and students too often mere bystanders

One of Adolf Hitler’s first priorities after coming to power was to transform the German education system, expelling teachers who were Jewish, Communist or simply dissident, and rewriting the textbooks. The education of a Nazi child was all-encompassing, from the picture book that depicted Jewish people as insects or cockroaches, to the biology lesson on how species survive by fighting and defeating inferior species, to the math question of “if there are X number of Aryans and Y number of Jews in Europe today, and if the Aryans are growing at the rate of A and Jews at the rate …


Aditi Rao

Aditi Rao is a writer, teacher and potter. She is the founder of Tasawwur, an arts-for-social-change programme for teenagers in Delhi, the author of two collections of poetry, The Fingers Remember (2014) and A Kind of Freedom Song (2019), and the “happy” in HappyMess Ceramics. She also teaches creative and academic writing, and splits her time between New Delhi and Shimla.