Joseph McCarthy

About Joseph McCarthy

Joseph is a part-time writer, part-time reviewer, part-time worker, part-time gamer, part-time skeptic and part-time children's book writer. He would like to do all of these full time but he just doesn't seem to have the time.

Note to Karl Stefanovic – Homework rules, OK!

Karl Stefanovic would rather play FIFA with his kids instead of helping with their homework, but Joseph McCarthy thinks there’s more quality time to be had in working out sums, not thumbs.


I just read a statement by Karl Stefanovic, well-known TV presenter on Channel 9’s Today show.

Basically he was making anti-homework statements because, in his opinion, it is too hard for the children and for himself and it takes away from quality time, which he characterised as “I want to play FIFA 15 soccer with my boys and teach my daughter the finer points of the high beam on the weekends.”

A response to this is warranted.

Firstly, I want to point out for full disclosure that I have no children of my own, however I did go to school with a lot of them. Nevertheless if you feel this disqualifies me from having an opinion on the matter, then so be it. Maybe you’re right. I’d still like the chance to discuss the pros and cons of the homework debate, which until about an hour ago I didn’t even know was a debate.

My understanding is that the point of homework is to reinforce the concepts that the students have learnt during the day. This pretty much takes away the “Why can’t the teachers teach them all they need to know in a day?” argument.

It also teaches students to manage their own time and also give the parents an opportunity to be involved with their children’s learning and at least give them a window into what their children are learning about.

To me these all seem like positive points. The sort of positive points that can’t really be argued with, but sometimes I forget just how irrational people can be.

Here’s some more thoughts from Karl Stefanovic on the subject.

“Stop sending kids home from school with homework they clearly can’t do. The sort of homework that involves constructing a suspension bridge. Using recycled toilet paper. I’m not an engineer and three ply is expensive…”

“Also I don’t know how to create a computer program. That’s for Apple or Google or whatever. And I don’t know how to write a four minute speech in Mandarin. Forget Ni hao, I don’t know how.”

Now I cannot say for sure, but I’m going to guess using Occam’s razor and general knowledge of the kind of things my nephew and niece are given for homework that this is a massive reductio ad absurdum. I doubt Karl Stefanovic’s kids have ever been asked to construct a suspension bridge using recycled paper. Maybe a connection of pieces of recycled paper across a room, although the question of why and under what subject this homework was given springs instantly to my mind.

Creating a computer program, maybe. Although I imagine that maybe they were asked to create a blog or website, possibly an app. All of which they may have learnt how to do in school. Also there are many, many, tutorials and programs and/or apps for those things.

A four minute Mandarin speech is a bit long, but definitely the most probable.

Back to his main issue – “It is just too hard.”

Isn’t that sort of the point?

What has become of society if we start saying things are too hard? Surely we should endeavour to do things that are hard? We should push ourselves, not lay back on our arses and hope somebody else will do it. I hope the reasons for this are obvious, but just in case I’ll remind you of another nation for whom things started to get too hard and they left it all to someone else to take care of them – the Romans. Remember them? They controlled most of Europe once; now they’re a small city, with an even smaller city inside of them taking up quite a bit of their real estate.

Karl Stefanovic’s other issue is that it takes away from quality time. Why not make doing the homework together the quality time? What better way than to help your children learn the basics? Again it’s all about advancing, developing and moving forward.

I’m not saying that the education system is perfect, in fact I think it needs a knock down and a rebuild, however, getting students to do homework is a vital part of the learning process. Having a learned/educated population is absolutely necessary for a thriving society and culture. At the end of the day discarding learning in exchange for luxury never works out.

Ask the Medieval Period if you don’t believe me.

Share via