Who Invented Homework?
Homework is a long-standing education staple, one that many students hate with a fiery passion. We can’t really blame them, especially if it’s a primary source of stress that can result in headaches, exhaustion, and lack of sleep.
It’s not uncommon for students, parents, and even some teachers to complain about bringing assignments home. Yet, for millions of children around the world, homework is still a huge part of their daily lives as students — even if it continues to be one of their biggest causes of stress and unrest.
It makes one wonder, who in their right mind would invent such a thing as homework?
Who Invented Homework?
Online, there are many articles that point to Roberto Nevilis as the first educator to give his students homework. He created it as a way to punish his lazy students and ensure that they fully learned their lessons.
However, these pieces of information mostly come from obscure educational blogs or forum websites with questionable claims.
No credible news source or website has ever mentioned the name Roberto Nevilis as the person who invented homework. In fact, it’s possible that Nevilis never even existed.
As we’re not entirely sure who to credit for creating the bane of students’ existence and the reasons why homework was invented, we can use a few historical trivia to help narrow down our search.
For students, parents and educators, homework is part of everyday life
But who invented homework?
How did it become the norm in education? Here’s a brief history of homework in the United States.
Origin of Homework: Myth vs. History
Exactly who invented homework?
We may never know for sure. Many people and events have influenced its history. Let’s first consider two of its influencers.
The dubious Roberto Nevelis of Venice.
Roberto Nevelis of Venice, Italy, is often credited with inventing homework in 1095 – or 1905, depending on your sources. On closer inspection, however, he seems to be more of an Internet myth than a historical figure.
Horace Mann, a 19th-century politician and educational reformer played a major role in the history of homework. Mann, like his contemporaries Henry Barnard and Calvin Ellis Stowe, had a strong interest in the compulsory public education system in the newly unified nation-state of Germany.
Students attending elementary schools were given compulsory assignments to be completed at home in their free time. This requirement emphasized the power of the state over the individual at a time when nationalists such as Johann Gottlieb Fichte were trying to rally support for a unified German state.
While homework had been invented prior to Fichte’s involvement in elementary schools, his political goals can be seen as the catalyst for establishing homework as a basic educational requirement.
Horace Mann led the development of state-regulated, tax-funded public education in the United States. He saw the Volkschule system in action during a trip to Germany in 1843 and brought some of its concepts – including homework – back to America.
Homework in the American Public School System
Homework, while a nearly universal part of the American educational experience, has not always been universally accepted. To this day, parents and educators debate its pros and cons…just as they have for more than a century.
The 1900s: Homework Bans & Anti-Homework Sentiment.
In 1901 – just a few decades after the concept of homework crossed the Atlantic – it was overturned by a homework ban in the Pacific state of California. The ban affected all students under the age of 15 and remained in effect until 1917.
Around the same time, prominent publications such as the Ladies ‘Home Journal and the New York Times used published testimony from parents and medical professionals to portray homework as harmful to children’s health.
One of the earliest American homework bans was in California.
1930: Homework was considered child labor
In 1930, an organization called the American Child Health Association declared that homework was a type of child labor. Since laws against child labor had recently been passed, this proclamation reflected an unfavorable view of homework as an acceptable educational practice.
Early to the mid-20th century: Homework and the Age of Progress
During the progressive educational reforms of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, teachers sought ways to make homework more personal and relevant to individual students. Kids who do homework may wonder who invented it.
During The Cold War: homework heats up
After World War II, the Cold War intensified U.S.-Russian conflicts in the 1950s. The launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957 intensified competition between Russians and Americans – including their youth.
U.S. education officials decided that rigorous homework was the best way to ensure that American students did not fall behind their Russian counterparts, especially in the increasingly competitive fields of science and math.
1980s homework in a nation at risk.
The U.S. Department of Education’s 1986 What Works booklet included homework among effective education strategies. This came three years after the National Commission on Excellence in Education released its landmark report, A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform.
Early 21st century: homework bans make a comeback
Many educators and other concerned citizens have again begun to question the value of homework. Several books have been published on the subject.
Should students be given homework? Advantages and disadvantages of bringing school work home.
Is homework important and necessary?
Or does homework do more harm than good?
Here are some important pros and cons you need consider:
It promotes the discipline of practice
It can be difficult and boring to use the same formula or memorize the same information over and over, but it reinforces discipline practice. Repetition is often required to master a skill.
By doing homework every night, especially in difficult subjects, the concepts become easier to understand and help students improve their skills and achieve their life goals.
It teaches students to manage their time
Homework goes beyond just completing assignments. It encourages children to develop their time management skills, as schedules need to be organized to ensure that all tasks can be completed within a day.
It gives students more time to complete their learning process
The time allotted for each school subject is often limited to 1 hour or less per day. This is not enough time for students to understand the material and core concepts of each subject. Creating specific homework assignments allows students to make up for the deficiencies in a timely manner.
It discourages creative endeavors
If а student sрends 3-5 hоurs а dаy оn hоmewоrk, thаt’s 3-5 hоurs they саn’t use tо рursue сreаtive раssiоns. Students mаy enjоy leisurely reаding оr tаking uр new hоbbies, but hоmewоrk tаkes аwаy time tо раint, leаrn аn instrument, оr develор new skills.
Hоmewоrk is usuаlly geаred tоwаrd benсhmаrks
Teасhers оften аssign hоmewоrk tо imрrоve students’ test sсоres. Аlthоugh this саn leаd tо роsitive оutсоmes suсh аs better study hаbits, the fасt is thаt students whо feel tired аre nоt likely tо аbsоrb аs muсh infоrmаtiоn. Their stress levels will inсreаse аnd they will feel the burnоut оf the сurriсulum.
No evidence that homework improves student performance
Reseаrсh shоws thаt hоmewоrk dоes nоt imрrоve асаdemiс рerfоrmаnсe. it mаy асtuаlly mаke it wоrse. Hоmewоrk сreаtes а negаtive аttitude tоwаrd sсhооl аnd eduсаtiоn, sо students аre аfrаid tо gо tо their сlаsses. If they dоn’t enjоy аttending their сlаsses, they аre nоt mоtivаted tо listen tо the disсussiоns.
With аll the diffiсulties students fасe every dаy beсаuse оf hоmewоrk, it is рuzzling tо understаnd why it wаs invented in the first рlасe. Whether yоu think it’s helрful оr nоt, just beсаuse the соnсeрt hаs survived fоr сenturies dоesn’t meаn it hаs tо stаy in the eduсаtiоn system.
Nоt аll students саre аbоut the histоry оf hоmewоrk, but they аll саre аbоut the future оf their eduсаtiоnаl рursuits. Рerhарs оne dаy hоmewоrk will be соmрletely eliminаted frоm the сurriсulum оf sсhооls аrоund the wоrld, but until thаt dаy, students will hаve tо burn the midnight оil tо соmрlete their requirements оn time аnd hорefully асhieve their оwn versiоns оf suссess.
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