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Value of Time

Posted by C Moon on March 22, 2008

Last Thursday I was under detention for an hour for the first time in my whole life. Days earlier, during the free time after the lecture had been over, my classmate asked me about the stock market, and I asked back “주식시장 (ju-shik-shi-jang, meaning stock market in Korean)” My lapse into uttering a single Korean word, cost me an hour, as it was a clear violation of the EOP (English Only Policy). Strict enforcement of the EOP is necessary for KIS, since KIS is an international school following American curriculum while the majority of the students are either Korean Americans or Korean descendants. Last Thursday, as the penalty of the violation, I had to sit in a classroom for an hour, being required not to do anything. The one hour made me think about the value of time.

Casual calculation indicates that an hour is 0.60 percent of a week, 0.15 percent of a month, and 0.012 percent of a year. What’s the big deal of being required not to do anything for an hour when it’s less than a percent of a week?

The casual calculation has a serious flaw. It considers an hour in the context of the total hours of a week, month, or year and understates the weight of an hour. To properly measure the value of an hour, we should exclude all the pre-occupied time, such as sleeping, working, eating, or commuting. Below is a brief summary of my sunk time on a weekday:

hour(s) / day
7 for eating, sleeping, and personal hygiene
1 for the AP Biology morning session
7 for regular school classes
2 for theater
1 for commuting
1.5 for practicing Taekwondo
0.5 for typing books for the visually handicapped
1 for calling, text messaging, and e-mailing
total sunk time: 21 hours

The free time on a regular weekday amounts to 3 hours only. Similar calculation leads to 5 hours per day for a weekend (well, after taking longer sleep hours into account). These calculations do not include the time of doing homework (throughout the week, more on weekends) or participating in non-regular semi-mandatory events (mostly on weekends). It is quite tricky to include homework hours, as from time to time, I am able to finish it within the short free hours sometimes while other times I have to reduce my sleeping time to complete all the homework. Anyways, the following is the weight of an hour in the context of free time, which includes the time for homework.

The 15 free hours of weekdays and the 10 free hours on weekends total 25 free hours per week. That is, 25 hours a week, 100 a month, and roughly 1300 a year. Hence, an hour is:

4.0 percent of a week
1.0 percent of a month
0.077 percent of a year

Now, an hour is more valuable. Taking the time for homework into account, an hour is extremely valuable!

I see many students going to bed as late as 3 or 4 am in the late night or the early morning (it is hard to judge which expression is proper), and staying up all night when there are tests. In that respect, my personal opinion on the penalty of detention is that one hour should be both time for reflection and for productivity. For example, during the hour, detained students may be penalized by requiring to hand-write a portion of classic or historical works or to write a short essay on social/moral issues or to read a light but educational book such as Chicken Soup for the Soul: 101 Stories to Open the Heart and Rekindle the Spirit or to participate in a community service. I personally think that these alternative penalties will better achieve the punitive and educational objectives of the detention while not damaging the value of one hour.

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Photo Credits: (1) “The Passage of Time” by ToniVC on Flickr

(2) “Bombay Clocks” by Natmandu on Flickr

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Authority vs. Personal Judgment

Posted by C Moon on February 27, 2008

After the World War II was over, there was a fervent discussion on whether human is by nature “evil.” Holocaust by the Germans and Rape of Nanking by the Japanese are only a few examples showing how cruel people can be to other people who do not belong to the “Us” group, the in-group. While many people asserted that there was something wrong with the Germans, there is an experiment that makes us ponder on whether we can blindly accuse Germans on their wrongdoing: Stanley Milgram’s experiment on “The Perils of Obedience.” To learn more about Milgram, read “The Man Who Shocked the World“.

Milgram’s design is quite ingenious, though controversial on some ethical grounds. The experiment proceeds as follows:

(1) A subject who is selected from the volunteers is told that he will have an experiment on whether punishment will improve one’s performance.
(2) The subject and the researchers’ confederate decide who will be the teacher and who will be the student by drawing a lot, but it is predesigned to make the subject the teacher.
(3) The subject, or the teacher, accompanies the student, who is being tied down to the chair.
(4) The teacher is asked to give a more severe electric shock every time the student gets the question wrong.

While the procedure seems simple, there is a constant pressure given to the subject: The pre-taped voice of the student is played, shouting out to stop or giving no response as the level of the electric shock increases, and there is a person asking the teacher to continue on giving the shocks. Interestingly, most people, in fact, more than half of the subjects, go on to give the highest level of the shock 450 volts (consider that the domestic electric supply of USA is 110V, of UK 240V, and of Korea 220V), labeled as “xxx,” meaning lethal. If you were thrown into such situation, what would be your decision?

Below, I am attaching a video that I’ve recently encountered: A recent recreation of Milgram’s 1963 experiment.

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Photo Credits: “Electric Char – Andy Warhol” by fibonetti on Flickr

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Early Bird vs. Night Owl

Posted by C Moon on January 25, 2008

I wake up at 6:20 am and leave home at about 6:50 am (the traffic condition requires me to do so). I arrive at the school at about 7:10 am, and, after attending the morning study session, I wait until the class starts at 8:00 am. Half awake and half asleep. Recently, I’ve encountered an article The Early Bird Gets the Bad Grade, which argues that we should “stop focusing on testing and instead support changing the hours of the school day, starting it later for teenagers and ending it later for all children.”

As a person who “worships” the power of sleep, I agree with this argument. Most high school students around the world may have a similar daily routine to mine, struggling to get up early in the morning and taking classes before their body starts to function. I love learning, but I do not enjoy sacrificing my sleeping time to learn more (though I do that, every morning in school). Here are some quotes from the article, telling us the importance of sleeping enough.

Indeed, no one does well when they’re sleep-deprived, but insufficient sleep among children has been linked to obesity and to learning issues like attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

In 2002, high schools in Jessamine County in Kentucky pushed back the first bell to 8:40 a.m., from 7:30 a.m. Attendance immediately went up, as did scores on standardized tests, which have continued to rise each year. Districts in Virginia and Connecticut have achieved similar success. In Minneapolis and Edina, Minn., which instituted high school start times of 8:40 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. respectively in 1997, students’ grades rose slightly and lateness, behavioral problems and dropout rates decreased.

While there is sufficient research backing up that sleeping enough is important to teenagers, why aren’t we applying the results? The article also gives a reason for that.

Well, it seems that improving teenagers’ performance takes a back seat to more pressing concerns: the cost of additional bus service, the difficulty of adjusting after-school activity schedules and the inconveniences to teachers and parents.

If that is the reason, I would say, it is a truly sad reality.

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Photo Credits: “Asleep in Class VI” by ach_mein on Flickr

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Cyberspace and Identity

Posted by C Moon on January 20, 2008

Recently, in the newspaper, I’ve read an interesting article called The Cyber Me. This article talks about a role game much in vogue with Korean teenagers (though I never heard of it before…;;) called “Member Play.”

… It is surprising that major portal sites have more than two thousand Member Play cafes, each of which boasts several thousand members.

So, what is “Member Play”? People set up communities and members pick the roles they wish to play in the community such as favorite pop singers. A member tracks every move of the celebrity, whose role he chose to play, and imitates it in the cyberspace.

What would be the true purpose of this game? Becoming “happier” than before or the Real Me by imitating the life of a celebrity in the cyberspace or in one’s imagination? Admiration and illusion may help people avoid unsatisfactory reality. But without facing the real world, how can one improve his situation? It is my view that people need to learn how to love themselves before loving others.

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Photo Credits: “Please Report to Cyberspace..” by benchilada on Flickr

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Korean Presidential Election and the Movie, Boiler Room (2000)

Posted by C Moon on December 7, 2007

boiler-room.pngKorean presidential election is slated for December 19, 2007, only 12 days from today. The hottest news for the last two weeks has been the allegations made by Mr. Kyung Joon Kim, who made counterfeit documents in the past and fled to USA after transferring in secret a huge sum of money to his clandestine account in the USA. On December 5, 2007, Korean attorney general’s office indicated that Mr. Kim’s scheme mimicked the tricks in the movie, Boiler Room. Suddenly Boiler Room became the most demanding movie in Korea and a cable TV called CGV aired the movie twice.

I watched Boiler Room October 2006 to complete the assignment from the economics class. In the class, we discussed business ethics in general and the misconduct of the key characters in Boiler Room specifically. One question of the assignment asked “In the movie Seth Davis has to make a decision, he must either sacrifice himself to bring down a unscrupulous company or know that the money he is making is actually ruining other people’s life. If put in a similar situation what would you do?” My answer was “I will either simply leave the company as soon as I know that its practice is unethical, or I will help FBI to bring the company down but I will also try to save friends like Chris and Debbie.”

If you want to learn more about the movie itself, read this post, Boiler Room — Echoes of Wall Street on blogcritics.

It is sad to know that well-educated Mr. Kim mimicked Boiler Room, collecting money from innocent investors, secretly transferring the money to his clandestine account, and fleeing to USA. For the last two weeks, he has been very active, trying to manipulate the media and the Korean political arena. For the most recent development on the situation, read Prosecutors clear Lee Myung-bak.

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Photo Credits: “Boiler Room” by yonhapnews.co.kr

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