"we had been obliged to wait for the Cultural Revolution to calm down before the school reopened."

From 1966 to 1976, China was in the grip of the Cultural Revolution, a movement instituted by Mao Zedong to eliminate traditional Chinese culture, combat capitalism and promote revolutionary communist ideals.  This led to a prolonged wave of intense violence, as well as the destruction of priceless cultural artifacts and historic sites.

Many Chinese accused of real or imaginary crimes were paraded and humiliated in public, and subjected to physical and verbal abuse by watching crowds.  Teachers and school administrators were forced to march through the streets in dunce hats.

Meanwhile the children of the urban middle class were sent to re-education camps in remote rural areas to learn from farmers and workers in the Down to the Countryside Movement.