Video transcript
Stop rebutting yourself! – primary debating – 07. With Sarah Jackson

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[Music playing]

TONY DAVEY: Hey, Sarah. How's things?

SARAH JACKSON: Hey, Tony. Good thanks. How are you going?

TONY DAVEY: Yeah, excellent. Thank you for coming and rebutting yourself on this fine day.

SARAH JACKSON: My pleasure.

TONY DAVEY: So, just tell us a bit about you and your debating work.

SARAH JACKSON: Yeah, cool. My name's Sarah. I first started debating when I went to a Northern Sydney debating camp back in Year 4, which would have been back in 2005. So, I guess it all started about 15 years ago. And, I debated all the way through high school. I went to public schools for primary school and high school, so I did the Premier's Debating Challenge each year. And, ever since I graduated, I've been coaching and also adjudicating a fair few competitions.

TONY DAVEY: That's right. That's a long time in the debating.


TONY DAVEY: That's crazy.


TONY DAVEY: So, today we're going to watch your speech from the 2007 Primary Schools' State Debating Championship finals. That's a tournament where all the different regions pick their very best speakers, and they get sent along as a team to do a bunch of debates at Collaroy, on the northern beaches. This is you in the final, and I think you go on to win. Congratulations.


TONY DAVEY: And, you're the third negative. And, the topic is something about banning homework, and you don't want to ban homework. That's - I can't remember the exact wording.

SARAH JACKSON: Cool. Now I'm excited. I haven't ever watched the video. So yeah, it'll be fun.

TONY DAVEY: You should download it afterwards. It's there for all to see, yeah. All right? So, are you ready to go?

SARAH JACKSON: Yeah, ready to go. OK, let's get into it.

[Video playback]


Good morning. School is about learning, and we need to reinforce this at home. Today, the opposition has had 3 main points. They've been leisure time, social, and family bonding.

Firstly, they spoke about leisure time and how we do not have enough time for leisure time. But, let's face it. We're at school for 6 hours a day, and then, as they rightly admitted, we do between half an hour to an hour of homework. That means, that at the maximum, we are taking up 7 hours of our day in education, and we have the rest of the day to play, socialise, and do leisure time. Also, at school, we aren't really learning for 6 hours a day. We have, like, an hour of lunch.

Nextly, they spoke about social, and how we are not becoming social enough, because of the enormous amount of time we spend doing homework. But, we can talk to our parents in that time. Also, what they could have said is 'teachers could put together assignments that you do together in pairs or in threes.' So, that way, you could go to each other's house after school, still be learning, but be socialising at the same time in a fun way.

They then spoke about family bonding, and how we do not have enough time to family bond. But, homework develops the bond. You can talk to your parents about what you're stuck on. You can - then while you're doing your homework, you can talk to your parents about how you did maths, and what you learned then. And, then you went out to lunch, and you played with whoever friends you played with. It is a great way to socialise.

They also talked about how parents may be too busy with work - because they might be at work - to play with you. If that is the case, then even if we don't have homework, we still won't be socialising with our parents.

The opposing team's model is we should get rid of all homework, but they have not explained this thoroughly. They have not said whether this should start tomorrow, whether it should start in 20 years, or whether it should start next year. They've also not said when we will revise our homework - what we do in homework, and when we will revise it at school.

Their homework is - their caseline is, homework is having a detrimental effect on children's health, fun, and childhood balance. But firstly, it is not having any effect on their health, because part of health includes mental health, which means that you need to know how to understand, which is what homework provides you with.

Secondly, in their team line, it talks about fun. But, after you do your half an hour or hour of homework, you can go out and have fun with your friends, or play in the park, or watch some TV. They then talked about childhood balance. But, let's say if we do 6 hours of schoolwork and half an hour of work at home, then that would mean that we are spending 6 and a half hours doing education.

So then, since children need to sleep for 10 hours, which is what the government says, then we can sleep for 10 hours. Then we have another 6 and a half hours left in our day to do leisure time, sport, and what we really like to do, such as hobbies. Therefore, it is balanced when you do homework.

They talked about how high school is high school, and how they have assignments on weekends. That is why we need to gradually build up. So, you continue to do a little bit. And, each year, you do more, so that then, in high school, you're prepared, and it doesn't come in one big swipe.

They then talked about how the Department of Education is saying what we need to learn about ... exactly ... they say what we need to learn about, and they recommend teachers set homework because it helps students.

We then talked about - our team - no - they then talked about reports, and how if you want to know how your child is going, you can do reports. But, they only come out twice a year. You need to know how your child is going, in case you need to talk to them about how their education is going.

School is about learning, and we need to reinforce this at home. Today, my team has had 3 main ideas. They've included extra study, routine, and being ready for high school and distraction. We have proved how extra studying will benefit children to become more educated. We have then talked about how homework develops a routine, and prepares you for high school.

Today, our burden of proof is this. If we can successfully prove to you that abolishing homework would mean that primary school kids would drop grades, and fall far behind in their work, then we have proved our case. We have proved this because you need to revise at home. And, that is where you get the second half of your lesson. School is about learning, and we need to reinforce this at home.


[End playback]



TONY DAVEY: That's an excellent speech there, with lots of maths, and lots and lots of rebuttal. Well played. So, looking back, if you could give a little bit of feedback to yourself, what kind of stuff would you say if you'd been adjudicating?

SARAH JACKSON: I think a couple of things. The first would be, I think, to feel more confident, not in the way I presented. But, I remember that day and how nervous I was. Like, I don't think I could sleep for the whole morning beforehand. And, I think for a little primary school student, I probably would have just reassured myself, and the team, a little bit more that we were on track. We were doing a good job, and to not stress out too much, and just have a lot of fun.

From a structural point of view, I think that I could tell that I was trying to move towards a thematic rebuttal that a third speaker should aim for. And, I started quite well, in that way, in trying to identify the 3 main arguments that the affirmative team had had. But, obviously, then I spent kind of the whole speech doing rebuttal. It didn't quite fit into those 3 main ideas. It was kind of presented just in the order it came to me.

And, then I had quite a rush case summary at the end. So, I think it'd be about trying to assess what the main 3 key themes in the debate were, and then being able to try and kind of summarise my team's case, back it up, while also doing some rebuttal under each issue.

TONY DAVEY: Yeah, very, very good advice for the old you there. But also, it's still an excellent, excellent speech.

SARAH JACKSON: Yeah, maybe.

TONY DAVEY: So now, are you ready to - sorry. What were you going to say?

SARAH JACKSON: No, I know. And, the other thing I was going to say was, I think, just to not get too lost in the semantics and the finer details. I think that was the last thing. I was very hung up obviously in the maths of the day, and how many hours there were, as well as trying to pin on the other team that, you know, their policy wouldn't work because they hadn't given them a date. And, now we know that it's more about the idea, whether or not the change should happen, and less so whether it is happening on January 1 or June 30, so, yeah.

TONY DAVEY: Yeah, that's a good call. I think some of the maths works really, really well. And, you said that, I think. But, like, the stuff about not having an exact start date was, yeah, very weird, something that kids love to talk about, but that doesn't make any difference at all.


TONY DAVEY: OK? So, with that out of the way, and some excellent advice there, are you now happy to go back and try to crush and destroy your former self with some rebuttal?

SARAH JACKSON: I am ready. Thanks, Tony.

TONY DAVEY: Excellent. All right. Here we go.

SARAH JACKSON: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. We think that in this debate today, the negative team focused far too much on the finer details, and really dismissed a lot of our key issues about student welfare and the quality of education that students would be receiving. On this first idea of welfare, we saw that there were 3 key ideas in the debate.

Firstly, the idea of there being enough time for leisure and for social activities, and then whether or not homework was a good bonding activity. Now, we saw the third negative kind of really thought that homework was a lot of fun, and that it was the best way that students could spend their time. But, we think that the negative team has clearly dismissed the fact that most students try to have a diverse education.

And, this doesn't just include academics. What it does include is extracurricular activities, like band, like debating, like sport, like gymnastics. So, many important other things should happen outside of school that aren't just education-focused.

And, in fact, as the affirmative team, we think that this is much more important for a child's overall well-being and engagement with the world, that they are able to take part in world events, in sports, so they are well-rounded individuals. And, we think that this is the time that the negative team is willing to sacrifice for homework. And, as the affirmative team, we think that it's very important that we no longer have homework, so that that time that is spent outside socialising with friends, and outside bonding with family, can actually be spent on extracurricular activities, which will be much better for the student overall in the long-term.

On the idea of family bonding, maybe the negative team came from a family where they loved homework, and they loved to do games together. But, what we think is that for most ordinary families, homework is a very stressful event. This is for 2 main reasons.

Firstly, it starts off with the nagging, that the kids don't want to do their homework, because they've been at school all day. And, parents have to spend all day, all afternoon, all weekend, trying to get their kids to do homework. Once the students finally do the homework, we think that most of the time, there is a lot of frustration, when they struggle with the maths' activities, for example, and the parent is trying to explain it. But, maybe the parent learnt how to do trading a different way when they were at school. And, what has ensued is just a big, big argument between student and between their parents, and that it's actually a really stressful thing in the lives of most families.

So overall, we think that homework is really bad for the welfare of students, because they can't do social activities. They don't have enough time to hang out with friends. And, it's actually limiting their extracurricular activities.

On to the second idea of education. We're actually quite surprised, on the affirmative team, that negative didn't spend more time talking about education. What they did tell us, though, is that we needed homework so that parents could know how their students were going, and the reports weren't frequent enough.

We on the affirmative team couldn't disagree more. We think that homework is what mixes everything up, because we have lots of students that are going to be getting help from their older siblings, their parents, the internet, because it's happening in this unsupervised environment. And, if anything, when we start to take homework back to home, where they're not doing it with supervision, students are far more likely to hand in work that doesn't reflect where they're up to with their spelling or their maths.

And, it's probably actually going to mean that they're going to get less help, in the long-term, because teachers might think that they're further ahead than what they are. And, in fact, those report cards the negative team thought were very important, are actually, probably, going to be wrong, and not reflect where a student is truly up to. So, we think that homework - it's important that it's banned, both for the education and the welfare of students.

TONY DAVEY: Yeah, very nice. Harsh, but fair, I think. Congratulations. And, better structure. You've got - your structure has improved.

SARAH JACKSON: Oh, yeah. Thank you. I've got a little bit of thematic structure going. Awesome.

TONY DAVEY: All right? Well, thank you for that. I thought that was excellent. Stay safe out there, enjoy debating when it comes back, and we'll talk to you soon out somewhere on the debating traps.

SARAH JACKSON: Thanks, Tony. See you.

TONY DAVEY: See you.

End of transcript