How much is homework really “loading up” parents?

by Brett Henebery30 Jan 2015

When TODAY’s Karl Stefanovic speaks Mandarin, recites Pink Floyd, and praises God in one live-to-air segment, you know something is up.

But the issue grating on Stefanovic’s nerves this morning was homework - or more specifically, the burden he believes it is placing on parents such as himself.

“I don’t know how to write a four minute speech in Mandarin. Forget ‘ni hao’, I don’t know how,” Stefanovic said, referring to parents’ limited knowledge on their child’s homework.

“I do not believe in doing any homework in primary school. Do not load our kids up after school time. School is fine. But let them be kids at home,” Stefanovic said.

The TODAY co-cost argued that kids should be using their time outside school to play and bond with their family. Likewise, parents should be spared from “doing homework they clearly can’t do”.

“That’s what we send our kids to school for - to load teachers up.”

“I want to play FIFA 15 soccer with my boys on the weekends and teach my daughter the finer points of the high beam on the weekends. Quality time! Quality time with a capital K,” Stefanovic joked.

Stefanovic concluded his rant by quoting from Pink Floyd’s 1979 hit, Another brick in the wall.

“So as we start the year off I’m reminded of a line from that great Pink Floyd song ‘hey teacher leave us kids alone’. What I’m saying this morning is ‘Hey teacher, leave us parents alone’. Amen, hallelujah. Praise the lord.”

So is homework really putting such an unnecessary burden on already-busy parents? Surely part of a parent’s responsibility is helping their child with homework?

Some may say that quality time can include parents spending time with their children at home to help them be better students.

Have your say: Is homework depriving parents and children of quality time together? 


  • by Jane 2/02/2015 10:20:11 AM

    Homework is too often a battleground.
    Education should be broad - let them play sport, dance, paint, build, garden! These too are about learning!

  • by Neill 2/02/2015 10:39:46 AM

    The research is pretty clear- in primary education reading and some basic facts help- all the rest is questionable, anything else should be optional. (Hattie, Kohn, BES- 2003
    Our website provides an alternative that has proven to be successful, honours the family and encourages whole brain learning Learning/Home Learning.html

  • by J Sanderson 2/02/2015 10:41:54 AM

    I think the main issue here is Karl thinking 'he has to do the homework' and not his children. As a former secondary school teacher, I take umbrage at Karl's comments about his expectations on teachers :

    “That’s what we send our kids to school for - to load teachers up.”
    “I want to play FIFA 15 soccer with my boys on the weekends and teach my daughter the finer points of the high beam on the weekends. Quality time! Quality time with a capital K,” Stefanovic joked.teachers on the whole do not enjoy sitting at home 'marking' children's work instead of having their own 'free time'

    ... as the homework that is often distributed is done so for specific reasons, namely:

    * to help a child revise their learning from the day at school and find where they have either misunderstood or need further clarification
    * to help a child learn the disciplines of study and how to plan carefully, prepare methodically and research / think more deeply on issues
    * to refine a skill that was covered briefly in class that day
    * to begin a new task by having a child think through the problem on their own and come to class with fresh ideas.. and more...

    Homework is not about asking parents to do the work, it is in fact the opposite. Complications only appear once we clarify the child:

    * A bright child who listens in class and completes homework will find additional tasks at night quick to complete, as invariably they have already learned the disciplines of sitting down to study, how to approach a particular task, and how to research and analyse information.
    * For the child who was talking during class time, or who was unable to understand or hear the topic or activities but was too afraid to ask, then homework is their opportunity to revise the information once again and try to master the skill / task.
    * That leaves the child who hasn't kept up with their in-class work for various reasons, and homework then only becomes a problem if parents or family members don't make themselves available to help their children learn how to sit down quietly (without the TV, the mobile, the usual distractions in a home) and go through the questions to ensure they understand how to complete the answers.

    Homework is not meant to be a burden and if it, is then surely it makes sense that if a child won't speak up, then the parents should consider approaching the teacher to voice their concerns calmly and rationally. To think that teachers enjoy additional marking or should be 'loaded' up some more, simply shows Karl's lack of understanding about education and lack of respect for the profession.

    Children are at school to learn skills for life, to learn how to interact socially and build relationships to develop into healthy and happy members of society, but they are also there to acquire knowledge about many different aspects of our society. So if a child has a problem with completing a short oral presentation in Mandarin, it is not the parent's problem. It only becomes the parents problem if they try to do the task themselves instead of sitting down quietly with their child to read the question and guide them. If it is apparent that their child down not know how to approach the task, then a note in the homework book surely communicates this to the school. This information then gives the teacher the knowledge needed to take some additional time to sit with the child, and perhaps even the class, to re-establish comprehension and understanding of the task.

    As a mother of three children, I have total respect for family time, indeed I don't believe we have enough of it today. However, I feel it is important to understand and respect that homework plays an important part of revising knowledge and skills, as it shows a teacher how well as child is absorbing information and how able they are at producing results. Please remember that teachers are still very underpaid for the job they perform, particularly the teachers who perform at 150 percent of their capacity all of the time, so perhaps a little more respect and understanding for the purpose of homework would go a long way in our community.

    I would prefer parents to be a little more upset about the fact that in today's society we have 'sport' interfering with 'family time' in a big way, with Saturdays and Sundays no longer free to kick the footy, go on picnics, have family lunches and the like. Surely 30 mins to one hour of homework each night is not too much to ask to give our children the confidence they need to perform alongside their peers and feel a real sense of achievement.

    So Karl, please remember that you've been to school and come out the other side; your children's education therefore is not about how well you're doing, but it is instead about helping your children succeed.