Friday, March 23, 2012

'How one man escaped from a North Korean prison camp'

His first memory is an execution. He walked with his mother to a wheat field, where guards had rounded up several thousand prisoners. The boy crawled between legs to the front row, where he saw guards tying a man  to a wooden pole.
Shin In Geun was four years old, too young to understand the speech that came before that killing. At dozens of executions in years to come, he would listen to a guard telling the crowd that the prisoner about to die had been offered "redemption" through hard labour, but had rejected the generosity of the North Korean government.
Guards stuffed pebbles into the prisoner's mouth, covered his head with a hood and shot him.
In Camp 14, a prison for the political enemies of North Korea, assemblies of more than two inmates were forbidden, except for executions. Everyone had to attend them.
The South Korean government estimates there are about 154,000 prisoners in North Korea's labour camps, while the US state department puts the number as high as 200,000 ...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Home schooling

Some studies on home schooling suggest some of the common criticisms aren't borne out by the facts:

"A significant difference was found between GPAs, TASP reading, and TASP math scores of home schooled students and non-home schooled students. Home schooled student performed significantly better than non-home schooled students regardless of part-time or full-time status or age at the time of admissions" [1]

"In 1997, a study of 5,402 homeschool students from 1,657 families ... demonstrated that homeschoolers, on the average, out-performed their counterparts in the public schools by 30 to 37 percentile points in all subjects. A significant finding when analyzing the data for 8th graders was the evidence that homeschoolers who are homeschooled two or more years score substantially higher than students who have been homeschooled one year or less. The new homeschoolers were scoring on the average in the 59th percentile compared to students homeschooled the last two or more years who scored between 86th and 92nd percentile. ... another study by Dr. Lawrence Rudner of 20,760 homeschooled students ... found the homeschoolers who have homeschooled all their school aged years had the highest academic achievement" [2]

Similar results have been found overseas:

"... home-schooled children perform better on average in the cognitive domain (language, mathematics, natural sciences, social studies), but differ little from their peers at school in terms of socio-emotional development" [3]

And a summary on Wikipedia of another 2003 study:

"In 2003, the National Home Education Research Institute conducted a survey of 7,300 U.S. adults who had been homeschooled (5,000 for more than seven years). Their findings included:

- Homeschool graduates are active and involved in their communities. 71% participate in an ongoing community service activity, like coaching a sports team, volunteering at a school, or working with a church or neighborhood association, compared with 37% of U.S. adults of similar ages from a traditional education background.

- Homeschool graduates are more involved in civic affairs and vote in much higher percentages than their peers. 76% of those surveyed between the ages of 18 and 24 voted within the last five years, compared with only 29% of the corresponding U.S. populace. The numbers are even greater in older age groups, with voting levels not falling below 95%, compared with a high of 53% for the corresponding U.S. populace.

- 58.9% report that they are "very happy" with life, compared with 27.6% for the general U.S. population. 73.2% find life "exciting", compared with 47.3%" [4]





Friday, March 16, 2012