On our last day in Beijing, we went to a traditional Chinese neighborhood called a hutong（胡同). In the past, government officials lived in these neighborhoods. Now, ordinary people live there. According to Simon, our tour guide, the hutongs are really great places for retired people.* For them, it is a safe place with a sense of community. There, we practiced Tai Chi and visited a family’s residence, exploring a theme that often arises when we have discussions about education – that education begins at home. In the Chinese hutong, we saw that such family support often extends throughout multiple generations.
A Typical Courtyard
While we were in the hutong, we took rickshaws to a family’s courtyard. According to the owner, his home had been in his family for five generations. He described some of the history of the house and the benefits of living there. He enjoyed living near to his granddaughter’s school and his friends. Simon later explained that many retirees take care of grandchildren while parents are at work, and as a result, grandparents are a central part of their grandchildren’s education.