History Cooperative

The Homework Dilemma: Who Invented Homework?

The inventor of homework may be unknown, but its evolution reflects contributions from educators, philosophers, and students. Homework reinforces learning, fosters discipline, and prepares students for the future, spanning from ancient civilizations to modern education. Ongoing debates probe its balance, efficacy, equity, and accessibility, prompting innovative alternatives like project-based and personalized learning. As education evolves, the enigma of homework endures.

Table of Contents

Who Invented Homework?

While historical records don’t provide a definitive answer regarding the inventor of homework in the modern sense, two prominent figures, Roberto Nevelis of Venice and Horace Mann, are often linked to the concept’s early development.

Roberto Nevelis of Venice: A Mythical Innovator?

Roberto Nevelis, a Venetian educator from the 16th century, is frequently credited with the invention of homework. The story goes that Nevelis assigned tasks to his students outside regular classroom hours to reinforce their learning—a practice that aligns with the essence of homework. However, the historical evidence supporting Nevelis as the inventor of homework is rather elusive, leaving room for skepticism.

While Nevelis’s role remains somewhat mythical, his association with homework highlights the early recognition of the concept’s educational value.

Horace Mann: Shaping the American Educational Landscape

Horace Mann, often regarded as the “Father of American Education,” made significant contributions to the American public school system in the 19th century. Though he may not have single-handedly invented homework, his educational reforms played a crucial role in its widespread adoption.

Mann’s vision for education emphasized discipline and rigor, which included assigning tasks to be completed outside of the classroom. While he did not create homework in the traditional sense, his influence on the American education system paved the way for its integration.

The invention of homework was driven by several educational objectives. It aimed to reinforce classroom learning, ensuring knowledge retention and skill development. Homework also served as a means to promote self-discipline and responsibility among students, fostering valuable study habits and time management skills.

Why Was Homework Invented?

The invention of homework was not a random educational practice but rather a deliberate strategy with several essential objectives in mind.

Reinforcing Classroom Learning

Foremost among these objectives was the need to reinforce classroom learning. When students leave the classroom, the goal is for them to retain and apply the knowledge they have acquired during their lessons. Homework emerged as a powerful tool for achieving this goal. It provided students with a structured platform to revisit the day’s lessons, practice what they had learned, and solidify their understanding.

Homework assignments often mirrored classroom activities, allowing students to extend their learning beyond the confines of school hours. Through the repetition of exercises and tasks related to the curriculum, students could deepen their comprehension and mastery of various subjects.

Fostering Self-Discipline and Responsibility

Another significant objective behind the creation of homework was the promotion of self-discipline and responsibility among students. Education has always been about more than just the acquisition of knowledge; it also involves the development of life skills and habits that prepare individuals for future challenges.

By assigning tasks to be completed independently at home, educators aimed to instill valuable study habits and time management skills. Students were expected to take ownership of their learning, manage their time effectively, and meet deadlines—a set of skills that have enduring relevance in contemporary education and beyond.

Homework encouraged students to become proactive in their educational journey. It taught them the importance of accountability and the satisfaction of completing tasks on their own. These life skills would prove invaluable in their future endeavors, both academically and in the broader context of their lives.

When Was Homework Invented?

The roots of homework stretch deep into the annals of history, tracing its origins to ancient civilizations and early educational practices. While it has undergone significant evolution over the centuries, the concept of extending learning beyond the classroom has always been an integral part of education.

Earliest Origins of Homework and Early Educational Practices

The idea of homework, in its most rudimentary form, can be traced back to the earliest human civilizations. In ancient Egypt , for instance, students were tasked with hieroglyphic writing exercises. These exercises served as a precursor to modern homework, as they required students to practice and reinforce their understanding of written language—an essential skill for communication and record-keeping in that era.

In ancient Greece , luminaries like Plato and Aristotle advocated for the use of written exercises as a tool for intellectual development. They recognized the value of practice in enhancing one’s knowledge and skills, laying the foundation for a more systematic approach to homework.

The ancient Romans also played a pivotal role in the early development of homework. Young Roman students were expected to complete assignments at home, with a particular focus on subjects like mathematics and literature. These assignments were designed to consolidate their classroom learning, emphasizing the importance of practice in mastering various disciplines.

READ MORE: Who Invented Math? The History of Mathematics

The practice of assigning work to be done outside of regular school hours continued to evolve through various historical periods. As societies advanced, so did the complexity and diversity of homework tasks, reflecting the changing needs and priorities of education.

The Influence of Educational Philosophers

While the roots of homework extend to ancient times, the ideas of renowned educational philosophers in later centuries further contributed to its development. John Locke, an influential thinker of the Enlightenment era, believed in a gradual and cumulative approach to learning. He emphasized the importance of students revisiting topics through repetition and practice, a concept that aligns with the principles of homework.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, another prominent philosopher, stressed the significance of self-directed learning. Rousseau’s ideas encouraged the development of independent study habits and a personalized approach to education—a philosophy that resonates with modern concepts of homework.

Homework in the American Public School System

The American public school system has played a pivotal role in the widespread adoption and popularization of homework. To understand the significance of homework in modern education, it’s essential to delve into its history and evolution within the United States.

History and Evolution of Homework in the United States

The late 19th century marked a significant turning point for homework in the United States. During this period, influenced by educational reforms and the growing need for standardized curricula, homework assignments began to gain prominence in American schools.

Educational reformers and policymakers recognized the value of homework as a tool for reinforcing classroom learning. They believed that assigning tasks for students to complete outside of regular school hours would help ensure that knowledge was retained and skills were honed. This approach aligned with the broader trends in education at the time, which aimed to provide a more structured and systematic approach to learning.

As the American public school system continued to evolve, homework assignments became a common practice in classrooms across the nation. The standardization of curricula and the formalization of education contributed to the integration of homework into the learning process. This marked a significant departure from earlier educational practices, reflecting a shift toward more structured and comprehensive learning experiences.

The incorporation of homework into the American education system not only reinforced classroom learning but also fostered self-discipline and responsibility among students. It encouraged them to take ownership of their educational journey and develop valuable study habits and time management skills—a legacy that continues to influence modern pedagogy.

Controversies Around Homework

Despite its longstanding presence in education, homework has not been immune to controversy and debate. While many view it as a valuable educational tool, others question its effectiveness and impact on students’ well-being.

The Homework Debate

One of the central controversies revolves around the amount of homework assigned to students. Critics argue that excessive homework loads can lead to stress, sleep deprivation, and a lack of free time for students. The debate often centers on striking the right balance between homework and other aspects of a student’s life, including extracurricular activities, family time, and rest.

Homework’s Efficacy

Another contentious issue pertains to the efficacy of homework in enhancing learning outcomes. Some studies suggest that moderate amounts of homework can reinforce classroom learning and improve academic performance. However, others question whether all homework assignments contribute equally to learning or whether some may be more beneficial than others. The effectiveness of homework can vary depending on factors such as the student’s grade level, the subject matter, and the quality of the assignment.

Equity and Accessibility

Homework can also raise concerns related to equity and accessibility. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds may have limited access to resources and support at home, potentially putting them at a disadvantage when it comes to completing homework assignments. This disparity has prompted discussions about the role of homework in perpetuating educational inequalities and how schools can address these disparities.

Alternative Approaches to Learning

In response to the controversies surrounding homework, educators and researchers have explored alternative approaches to learning. These approaches aim to strike a balance between reinforcing classroom learning and promoting holistic student well-being. Some alternatives include:

Project-Based Learning

Project-based learning emphasizes hands-on, collaborative projects that allow students to apply their knowledge to real-world problems. This approach shifts the focus from traditional homework assignments to engaging, practical learning experiences.

Flipped Classrooms

Flipped classrooms reverse the traditional teaching model. Students learn new material at home through video lectures or readings and then use class time for interactive discussions and activities. This approach reduces the need for traditional homework while promoting active learning.

Personalized Learning

Personalized learning tailors instruction to individual students’ needs, allowing them to progress at their own pace. This approach minimizes the need for one-size-fits-all homework assignments and instead focuses on targeted learning experiences.

The Ongoing Conversation

The controversies surrounding homework highlight the need for an ongoing conversation about its role in education. Striking the right balance between reinforcing learning and addressing students’ well-being remains a complex challenge. As educators, parents, and researchers continue to explore innovative approaches to learning, the role of homework in the modern educational landscape continues to evolve. Ultimately, the goal is to provide students with the most effective and equitable learning experiences possible.

Unpacking the Homework Enigma

Homework, without a single inventor, has evolved through educators, philosophers, and students. It reinforces learning, fosters discipline and prepares students. From ancient times to modern education, it upholds timeless values. Yet, controversies arise—debates on balance, efficacy, equity, and accessibility persist. Innovative alternatives like project-based and personalized learning emerge. Homework’s role evolves with education.

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Debunking the Myth of Roberto Nevilis: Who Really Invented Homework?

  • By Emily Summers
  • February 18, 2019

For those of us who have attended a formal education setting, you might remember the frustration of getting homework from most of your teachers. Before class ends, your teacher instructs your class to answer a certain page of your book or to write an essay about the topic you had just discussed.

Some of us really didn’t like doing homework. It was very time-consuming and, on top of extra-curricular activities, house chores, and other tasks you needed to do, you had very little time to yourself and your hobbies before having to go to sleep.

If you’ve ever been curious enough to find out who to thank for inventing homework, Google and several websites will tell you that it’s a man named Roberto Nevilis. That he invented homework as a form of punishment for underperforming students and, almost a thousand years later, billions of students are frustrated both at school and at home because of him.

But that, like a lot of things on the internet, simply isn’t true. In fact, Roberto Nevilis doesn’t even exist.

Who Invented Homework? Not Roberto Nevilis.

The nail in the coffin, a brief history on the education system, the father of modern homework, is homework still effective.

Online, there are many articles claiming that Roberto Nevilis was the first educator who came up with giving students homework. But if you look at the websites that claim this, you’ll find that it’s mostly forum websites or obscure educational blogs. No credible website or news source even mentions the name Roberto Nevilis. And for a guy who has affected the educational career of anyone who has had a formal education, you’d think a credible website would mention him at least once. Or some of the less-credible websites would confirm his contribution without saying the word “allegedly” or a vague “scientists believe” or the like.

Roberto Nevilis

Nevilis was supposedly a teacher based in Venice, Italy when he invented homework. Some claim that he invented it in 1095, while others claim he invented it in 1905 before it spread to Europe and to the rest of the world. It was said to be a form of punishment for students who underperformed in class. Students who performed well in class were spared from homework.

Either way, this claim is dubious. In 1095, education was still very informal around Europe and an organized education system in the continent didn’t start until 800 years later. In the 1500’s, English nobility were still being taught by private tutors.

Around 1095, the Roman Empire had long fallen and the Pope was still organizing the very first crusade and education was still informal, so it would be impossible for Nevilis to not only hold a class and give out homework, but to also spread out his idea to the rest of Europe when there was still no organized educational system.

And it couldn’t have been 1905, either. In 1901, California passed an act that banned homework for students younger than 15 years old before the law was revoked in 1917. That means Nevilis – assuming he does exists and isn’t the work of some internet trolls – couldn’t have invented it in 1905 in Europe if it already made its way to California and probably the rest of the world four years earlier.

And if that’s not enough evidence, just take a look at all the information you can get on him online. The only websites that mention his name: Quora, WikiAnswers, clickbait articles, and blogs for websites that help you write your homework (though if they can’t do their research properly, you might want to stay away from their services).

There’s no credible website mentioning him anywhere. And the websites that do mention him are very vague in describing his contribution. “Scientists believe” becomes a very sketchy claim when a website doesn’t cite a credible source. And if you try to search “Roberto Nevilis,” only the same handful of websites show up.

The truth is, homework existed dating back to the earliest civilizations and the first forms of education. In feudal times, education was reserved for the wealthy men. Those who weren’t rich had no time to study reading or philosophy and were busy making a living. Wealthy young women were trained in the more womanly arts, though princesses and nobles were expected to know a few things and were tutored as well. While they weren’t given workbooks and links to online quizzes, their tutors had expected them to read literary pieces during their free time.


The earliest evidence of a formal school comes from the Sumerian civilization. They had Edubas, which were houses of clay tablets were scribes practiced how to read and write. Archaeologists found student exercises etched into the tablets. Not much is known if they followed a schedule or were all taught by one teacher like the education system today.

During these times, however, homework did not involve answering questions or writing down essays as we’ve come to know it today. If we look back at history, there were other forms of educational methods that students and teachers at the time would have considered the homework of their time.

While we can’t pin the invention of homework to a certain teacher, we can trace back who was responsible for making homework that way it is to this day: Johann Gottlieb Fichte, a German philosopher known as the founding father of German nationalism.

Johann Gottlieb Fichte

In 1814, Prussia had a problem stirring nationalism among its citizens. Instead of serving the country after the war, citizens could choose to go back to whatever they were doing without thinking of dedicating their time and sacrifice to the country. There was no sense of pride or nationalism.

And so, Fichte conceived the Volkschule – a mandatory nine-year education similar to primary and lower secondary education provided by the state – and a Realschule – a secondary school available to aristocrats. Those attending the Volkschule were given the homework we know today as a way to demonstrate the state’s power even during personal time.

The system spread across Europe, but not in a totally dominating way. Some countries continued with their own system, which is why countries such as Finland don’t impose homework on their students. However, in 1843, back when the United States still practiced private tutors or informal lessons, Horace Mann reformed public education after travelling to Prussia and saw their education system and adapted it into the American education system. Thus, homework eventually evolved into a global practice.

Homework, therefore, is the result of nationalism and getting students to understand that “me time” actually falls on government time if they want to get their education. Contrary to what many websites would say, it wasn’t invented as a punishment for academically failing students.

However, over 200 years had passed since homework’s evolution into what we know it is today. So, is it still necessary to keep our students burdened with extra assignments? On one hand, it can be a good way to teach students time management skills. We like to think that work stays at work and personal life stays out of work, but as working adults, we know this is not the case. Homework at an early age teaches students to use their time wisely.

And while homework can still be helpful in students’ education, it’s only helpful to a certain extent. When plenty of teachers pile on homework, they’re depriving students of time to focus on their extra-curricular activities and personal life.


For those of us who have graduated with high grades, we’ve learned the hard way that a spotless report card can get our foot on the door, but if we have poor interpersonal skills and lack the skills you can only get outside of academics, you can’t achieve total success. Homework is good, but only to an extent. Then, it just becomes an unnecessary burden on students.

In fact, if you look at Finland and Japan – countries that don’t practice giving out homework – you can see that homework is unnecessary if the educational system favors it. Finland has shorter school days, longer summer breaks, and have an educational system where students aren’t required to start school until the age of seven. However, their students have always ranked high in terms of exams.

It’s because in Finland, a teaching career is at the same league as doctors and lawyers. Compare that to our current education system, where teachers are underappreciated and harried in public schools. Finland’s education system allows students more leeway, showing how it is possible to produce bright students without putting too much pressure on them.

We’ve all been frustrated with homework back when we were studying, but homework is actually more than just a nuisance we all have to face in our educational career. It’s actually an important factor which can shape productivity and the time students have for other factors of their education.

About the Author

Emily summers.

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Who Really Invented Homework

The Surprising History of Homework Reform

Really, kids, there was a time when lots of grownups thought homework was bad for you.

Boy sitting at desk with book

Homework causes a lot of fights. Between parents and kids, sure. But also, as education scholar Brian Gill and historian Steven Schlossman write, among U.S. educators. For more than a century, they’ve been debating how, and whether, kids should do schoolwork at home .

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At the dawn of the twentieth century, homework meant memorizing lists of facts which could then be recited to the teacher the next day. The rising progressive education movement despised that approach. These educators advocated classrooms free from recitation. Instead, they wanted students to learn by doing. To most, homework had no place in this sort of system.

Through the middle of the century, Gill and Schlossman write, this seemed like common sense to most progressives. And they got their way in many schools—at least at the elementary level. Many districts abolished homework for K–6 classes, and almost all of them eliminated it for students below fourth grade.

By the 1950s, many educators roundly condemned drills, like practicing spelling words and arithmetic problems. In 1963, Helen Heffernan, chief of California’s Bureau of Elementary Education, definitively stated that “No teacher aware of recent theories could advocate such meaningless homework assignments as pages of repetitive computation in arithmetic. Such an assignment not only kills time but kills the child’s creative urge to intellectual activity.”

But, the authors note, not all reformers wanted to eliminate homework entirely. Some educators reconfigured the concept, suggesting supplemental reading or having students do projects based in their own interests. One teacher proposed “homework” consisting of after-school “field trips to the woods, factories, museums, libraries, art galleries.” In 1937, Carleton Washburne, an influential educator who was the superintendent of the Winnetka, Illinois, schools, proposed a homework regimen of “cooking and sewing…meal planning…budgeting, home repairs, interior decorating, and family relationships.”

Another reformer explained that “at first homework had as its purpose one thing—to prepare the next day’s lessons. Its purpose now is to prepare the children for fuller living through a new type of creative and recreational homework.”

That idea didn’t necessarily appeal to all educators. But moderation in the use of traditional homework became the norm.

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“Virtually all commentators on homework in the postwar years would have agreed with the sentiment expressed in the NEA Journal in 1952 that ‘it would be absurd to demand homework in the first grade or to denounce it as useless in the eighth grade and in high school,’” Gill and Schlossman write.

That remained more or less true until 1983, when publication of the landmark government report A Nation at Risk helped jump-start a conservative “back to basics” agenda, including an emphasis on drill-style homework. In the decades since, continuing “reforms” like high-stakes testing, the No Child Left Behind Act, and the Common Core standards have kept pressure on schools. Which is why twenty-first-century first graders get spelling words and pages of arithmetic.

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The Big Question: Who Invented Homework?

who invented homework reddit

Crystal Bourque

who invented homework reddit

Love it or hate it, homework is part of student life.

But what’s the purpose of completing these tasks and assignments? And who would create an education system that makes students complete work outside the classroom?

This post contains everything you’ve ever wanted to know about homework. So keep reading! You’ll discover the answer to the big question: who invented homework?

The Inventor of Homework

The myth of roberto nevilis: who is he, the origins of homework, a history of homework in the united states, 5 facts about homework, types of homework.

  • What’s the Purpose of Homework? 
  • Homework Pros
  • Homework Cons

When, How, and Why was Homework Invented?

who invented homework

Daniel Jedzura/Shutterstock.com

To ensure we cover the basics (and more), let’s explore when, how, and why was homework invented.

As a bonus, we’ll also cover who invented homework. So get ready because the answer might surprise you!

It’s challenging to pinpoint the exact person responsible for the invention of homework.

For example, Medieval Monks would work on memorization and practice singing. Ancient philosophers would read and develop their teachings outside the classroom. While this might not sound like homework in the traditional form we know today, one could argue that these methods helped to form the basic structure and format.

So let’s turn to recorded history to try and identify who invented homework and when homework was invented.

Pliny the Younger

who made homework

Credit: laphamsquarterly.org

We can trace the term ‘homework’ back to ancient Rome. Pliny the Younger (61—112 CE), an oratory teacher, often told his students to practice their public speaking outside class.

Pliny believed that the repetition and practice of speech would help students gain confidence in their speaking abilities.

Johann Gottlieb Fichte

who invented homework reddit

Credit: inlibris.com

Before the idea of homework came to the United States, Germany’s newly formed nation-state had been giving students homework for years.

It wasn’t until German Philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762—1814) helped to develop the Volksschulen (People’s Schools) that homework became mandatory.

Fichte believed that the state needed to hold power over individuals to create a unified Germany. A way to assert control over people meant that students attending the Volksshulen were required to complete assignments at home on their own time.

As a result, some people credit Fichte for being the inventor of homework.

Horace Mann

roberto nevilis

Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

The idea of homework spread across Europe throughout the 19th century.

So who created homework in the United States?

Horace Mann (1796—1859), an American educational reformer, spent some time in Prussia. There, he learned more about Germany’s Volksshulen and homework practices.

Mann liked what he saw and brought this system back to America. As a result, homework rapidly became a common factor in students’ lives across the country.

who invented homework reddit

Credit: medium.com

If you’ve ever felt curious about who invented homework, a quick online search might direct you to a man named Roberto Nevilis, a teacher in Venice, Italy.

As the story goes, Nevilis invented homework in 1905 (or 1095) to punish students who didn’t demonstrate a good understanding of the lessons taught during class.

This teaching technique supposedly spread to the rest of Europe before reaching North America.

Unfortunately, there’s little truth to this story. If you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that these online sources lack credible sources to back up this myth as fact.

In 1905, the Roman Empire turned its attention to the First Crusade. No one had time to spare on formalizing education, and classrooms didn’t even exist. So how could Nevilis spread the idea of homework when education remained so informal?

And when you jump to 1901, you’ll discover that the government of California passed a law banning homework for children under fifteen. Nevilis couldn’t have invented homework in 1905 if this law had already reached the United States in 1901.

what is homework

Inside Creative House/Shutterstock.com

When it comes to the origins of homework, looking at the past shows us that there isn’t one person who created homework. Instead, examining the facts shows us that several people helped to bring the idea of homework into Europe and then the United States.

In addition, the idea of homework extends beyond what historians have discovered. After all, the concept of learning the necessary skills human beings need to survive has existed since the dawn of man.

More than 100 years have come and gone since Horace Mann introduced homework to the school system in the United States.

Therefore, it’s not strange to think that the concept of homework has changed, along with our people and culture.

In short, homework hasn’t always been considered acceptable. Let’s dive into the history or background of homework to learn why.

Homework is Banned! (The 1900s)

Important publications of the time, including the Ladies’ Home Journal and The New York Times, published articles on the negative impacts homework had on American children’s health and well-being.

As a result, California banned homework for children under fifteen in 1901. This law, however, changed again about a decade later (1917).

Children Needed at Home (The 1930s)

Formed in 1923, The American Child Health Association (ACHA) aimed to decrease the infant mortality rate and better support the health and development of the American child.

By the 1930s, ACHA deemed homework a form of child labor. Since the government recently passed laws against child labor , it became difficult to justify homework assignments.

who invented homework and why

Studio Romantic/Shutterstock.com

A Shift in Ideas (The 1940s—1950s)

During the early to mid-1900s, the United States entered the Progressive Era. As a result, the country reformed its education system to help improve students’ learning.

Homework became a part of everyday life again. However, this time, the reformed curriculum required teachers to make the assignments more personal.

As a result, students would write essays on summer vacations and winter breaks, participate in ‘show and tell,’ and more.

These types of assignments still exist today!

Homework Today (The 2000s)

In 2022, the controversial nature of homework is once again a hot topic of discussion in many classrooms.

According to one study , more than 60% of college and high school students deal with mental health issues like depression and anxiety due to homework. In addition, the large number of assignments given to students takes away the time students spend on other interests and hobbies. Homework also negatively impacts sleep.

As a result, some schools have implemented a ban or limit on the amount of homework assigned to students.

Test your knowledge and check out these other facts about homework:

  • Horace Mann is also known as the ‘father’ of the modern school system (read more about it here ).
  • With a bit of practice, homework can improve oratory and writing skills. Both are important in a student’s life at all stages.
  • Homework can replace studying. Completing regular assignments reduces the time needed to prepare for tests.
  • Homework is here to stay. It doesn’t look like teachers will stop assigning homework any time soon. However, the type and quantity of homework given seems to be shifting to accommodate the modern student’s needs.
  • The optimal length of time students should spend on homework is one to two hours. Students who spent one to two hours on homework per day scored higher test results.

who created homework

Ground Picture/Shutterstock.com

The U.S. Department of Education provides teachers with plenty of information and resources to help students with homework.

In general, teachers give students homework that requires them to employ four strategies. The four types of homework types include:

  • Practice: To help students master a specific skill, teachers will assign homework that requires them to repeat the particular skill. For example, students must solve a series of math problems.
  • Preparation: This type of homework introduces students to the material they will learn in the future. An example of preparatory homework is assigning students a chapter to read before discussing the contents in class the next day.
  • Extension: When a teacher wants to get students to apply what they’ve learned but create a challenge, this type of homework is assigned. It helps to boost problem-solving skills. For example, using a textbook to find the answer to a question gets students to problem-solve differently.
  • Integration: To solidify the learning experience for students, teachers will create a task that requires the use of many different skills. An example of integration is a book report. Completing integration homework assignments help students learn how to be organized, plan, strategize, and solve problems on their own.

Ultimately, the type of homework students receive should have a purpose, be focused and clear, and challenge students to problem solve while integrating lessons learned.

What’s the Purpose of Homework?

who invented school homework

LightField Studios/Shutterstock.com

Homework aims to ensure students understand the information they learn in class. It also helps teachers to assess a student’s progress and identify strengths and weaknesses.

For example, teachers use different types of homework like book reports, essays, math problems, and more to help students demonstrate their understanding of the lessons learned.

Does Homework Improve the Quality of Education?

Homework is a controversial topic today. Educators, parents, and even students often question whether homework is beneficial in improving the quality of education.

Let’s explore the pros and cons of homework to try and determine whether homework improves the quality of education in schools.

Homework Pros:

  • Time Management Skills : Assigning homework with a due date helps students to develop a schedule to ensure they complete tasks on time.
  • More Time to Learn : Students encounter plenty of distractions at school. It’s also challenging for students to grasp the material in an hour or less. Assigning homework provides the student the opportunity to understand the material.
  • Improves Research Skills : Some homework assignments require students to seek out information. Through homework, students learn where to seek out good, reliable sources.

Homework Cons:

  • Reduced Physical Activity : Homework requires students to sit at a desk for long periods. Lack of movement decreases the amount of physical activity, often because teachers assign students so much homework that they don’t have time for anything else.
  • Stuck on an Assignment: A student often gets stuck on an assignment. Whether they can’t find information or the correct solution, students often don’t have help from parents and require further support from a teacher.
  • Increases Stress : One of the results of getting stuck on an assignment is that it increases stress and anxiety. Too much homework hurts a child’s mental health, preventing them from learning and understanding the material.

Some research shows that homework doesn’t provide educational benefits or improve performance.

However, research also shows that homework benefits students—provided teachers don’t give them too much. Here’s a video from Duke Today that highlights a study on the very topic.

Homework Today

Maybe one day, students won’t need to submit assignments or complete tasks at home. But until then, many students understand the benefits of completing homework as it helps them further their education and achieves future career goals.

Before you go, here’s one more question: how do you feel about homework? Do you think teachers assign too little or too much? Get involved and start a discussion in the comments!

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Who Invented Homework and Why

who invented homework reddit

Who Created Homework?

Italian pedagog, Roberto Nevilis, was believed to have invented homework back in 1905 to help his students foster productive studying habits outside of school. However, we'll sound find out that the concept of homework has been around for much longer.                                                                                                                                                              

Homework, which most likely didn't have a specific term back then, already existed even in ancient civilizations. Think Greece, Rome, and even ancient Egypt. Over time, homework became standardized in our educational systems. This happened naturally over time, as the development of the formal education system continued.                                                        

In this article, we're going to attempt to find out who invented homework, and when was homework invented, and we're going to uncover if the creator of homework is a single person or a group of them. Read this article through to the end to find out.

Who Invented Homework and When?

It is commonly believed that Roberto Nevelis from Venice, Italy, is the originator of homework. Depending on various sources, this invention is dated either in the year 1095 or 1905.

It might be impossible to answer when was homework invented. A simpler question to ask is ‘what exactly is homework?’.

If you define it as work assigned to do outside of a formal educational setup, then homework might be as old as humanity itself. When most of what people studied were crafts and skills, practicing them outside of dedicated learning times may as well have been considered homework.

Let’s look at a few people who have been credited with formalizing homework over the past few thousand years. 

Roberto Nevilis

Stories and speculations on the internet claim Roberto Nevilis is the one who invented school homework, or at least was the first person to assign homework back in 1905.

Who was he? He was an Italian educator who lived in Venice. He wanted to discipline and motivate his class of lackluster students. Unfortunately, claims online lack factual basis and strong proof that Roberto did invent homework.                                                                                                        

Homework, as a concept, predates Roberto, and can't truly be assigned to a sole inventor. Moreover, it's hard to quantify where an idea truly emerges, because many ideas emerge from different parts of the world simultaneously or at similar times, therefore it's hard to truly pinpoint who invented this idea.

Pliny the Younger

Another culprit according to the internet lived a thousand years before Roberto Nevilis. Pliny the Younger was an oratory teacher in the first century AD in the Roman Empire.

He apparently asked his students to practice their oratory skills at home, which some people consider one of the first official versions of homework.

It is difficult to say with any certainty if this is the first time homework was assigned though because the idea of asking students to practice something outside classes probably existed in every human civilization for millennia. 

Horace Mann

To answer the question of who invented homework and why, at least in the modern sense, we have to talk about Horace Mann. Horace Mann was an American educator and politician in the 19th century who was heavily influenced by movements in the newly-formed German state.

He is credited for bringing massive educational reform to America, and can definitely be considered the father of modern homework in the United States. However, his ideas were heavily influenced by the founding father of German nationalism Johann Gottlieb Fichte. 

After the defeat of Napoleon and the liberation of Prussia in 1814, citizens went back to their own lives, there was no sense of national pride or German identity. Johann Gottlieb Fichte came up with the idea of Volkschule, a mandatory 9-year educational system provided by the government to combat this.

Homework already existed in Germany at this point in time but it became a requirement in Volkschule. Fichte wasn't motivated purely by educational reform, he wanted to demonstrate the positive impact and power of a centralized government, and assigning homework was a way of showing the state's power to influence personal and public life.

This effort to make citizens more patriotic worked and the system of education and homework slowly spread through Europe.

Horace Mann saw the system at work during a trip to Prussia in the 1840s and brought many of the concepts to America, including homework.   

Who Invented Homework and Why?

Homework's history and objectives have evolved significantly over time, reflecting changing educational goals. Now, that we've gone through its history a bit, let's try to understand the "why". The people or people who made homework understood the advantages of it. Let's consider the following:                                                  

  • Repetition, a key factor in long-term memory retention, is a primary goal of homework. It helps students solidify class-learned information. This is especially true in complex subjects like physics, where physics homework help can prove invaluable to learning effectively.
  • Homework bridges classroom learning with real-world applications, enhancing memory and understanding.
  • It identifies individual student weaknesses, allowing focused efforts to address them.
  • Working independently at their own pace, students can overcome the distractions and constraints of a classroom setting through homework.
  • By creating a continuous learning flow, homework shifts the perspective from viewing each school day as isolated to seeing education as an ongoing process.
  • Homework is crucial for subjects like mathematics and sciences, where repetition is necessary to internalize complex processes.
  • It's a tool for teachers to maximize classroom time, focusing on expanding understanding rather than just drilling fundamentals.
  • Responsibility is a key lesson from homework. Students learn to manage time and prioritize tasks to meet deadlines.
  • Research skills get honed through homework as students gather information from various sources.
  • Students' creative potential is unleashed in homework, free from classroom constraints.

The person or people who made school and homework understood the plethora of advantages homework had and the positive effect it had on students' cognitive functions over time.

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Who Invented Homework: Development in the 1900s

Thanks to Horace Mann, homework had become widespread in the American schooling system by 1900, but it wasn't universally popular amongst either students or parents. 

The early 1900s homework bans

In 1901, California became the first state to ban homework. Since homework had made its way into the American educational system there had always been people who were against it for some surprising reasons.

Back then, children were expected to help on farms and family businesses, so homework was unpopular amongst parents who expected their children to help out at home. Many students also dropped out of school early because they found homework tedious and difficult.

Publications like Ladies' Home Journal and The New York Times printed statements and articles about the detrimental effects of homework on children's health. 

The 1930 child labor laws

Homework became more common in the U.S. around the early 1900s. As to who made homework mandatory, the question remains open, but its emergence in the mainstream sure proved beneficial. Why is this?

Well, in 1930, child labor laws were created. It aimed to protect children from being exploited for labor and it made sure to enable children to have access to education and schooling. The timing was just right.

Speaking of homework, if you’re reading this article and have homework you need to attend to, send a “ do my homework ” request on Studyfy and instantly get the help of a professional right now.

Progressive reforms of the 1940s and 50s

With more research into education, psychology and memory, the importance of education became clear. Homework was understood as an important part of education and it evolved to become more useful and interesting to students. 

Homework during the Cold War

Competition with the Soviet Union fueled many aspects of American life and politics. In a post-nuclear world, the importance of Science and Technology was evident.

The government believed that students had to be well-educated to compete with Soviet education systems. This is the time when homework became formalized, accepted, and a fundamental part of the American educational system. 

1980s Nation at Risk

In 1983 the National Commission on Excellence in Education published Nation at Risk:

The Imperative for Educational Reform, a report about the poor condition of education in America.  Still in the Cold War, this motivated the government in 1986 to talk about the benefits of homework in a pamphlet called “What Works” which highlighted the importance of homework. 

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Who Invented Homework: The Modern Homework Debate

Like it or not, homework has stuck through the times, remaining a central aspect in education since the end of the Cold War in 1991. So, who invented homework 😡 and when was homework invented?

We’ve tried to pinpoint different sources, and we’ve understood that many historical figures have contributed to its conception.

Horace Mann, in particular, was the man who apparently introduced homework in the U.S. But let’s reframe our perspective a bit. Instead of focusing on who invented homework, let’s ask ourselves why homework is beneficial in the first place. Let’s consider the pros and cons:

  • Homework potentially enhances memory.
  • Homework helps cultivate time management, self-learning, discipline, and cognitive skills.
  • An excessive amount of work can cause mental health issues and burnout.
  • Rigid homework tasks can take away time for productive and leisurely activities like arts and sports.

Meaningful homework tasks can challenge us and enrich our knowledge on certain topics, but too much homework can actually be detrimental. This is where Studyfy can be invaluable. Studyfy offers homework help.

All you need to do is click the “ do my assignment ” button and send us a request. Need instant professional help? You know where to go now.

Frequently asked questions

Who made homework.

As stated throughout the article, there was no sole "inventor of homework." We've established that homework has already existed in ancient civilizations, where people were assigned educational tasks to be done at home. 

Let's look at ancient Greece; for example, students at the Academy of Athens were expected to recite and remember epic poems outside of their institutions. Similar practices were going on in ancient Egypt, China and Rome. 

This is why we can't ascertain the sole inventor of homework. While history can give us hints that homework was practiced in different civilizations, it's not far-fetched to believe that there have been many undocumented events all across the globe that happened simultaneously where homework emerged. 

Why was homework invented? 

We've answered the question of "who invented homework 😡" and we've recognized that we cannot pinpoint it to one sole inventor. So, let's get back to the question of why homework was invented. 

Homework arose from educational institutions, remained, and probably was invented because teachers and educators wanted to help students reinforce what they learned during class. They also believed that homework could improve memory and cognitive skills over time, as well as instill a sense of discipline. 

In other words, homework's origins can be linked to academic performance and regular students practice. Academic life has replaced the anti-homework sentiment as homework bans proved to cause partial learning and a struggle to achieve conceptual clarity.

Speaking of, don't forget that Studyfy can help you with your homework, whether it's Python homework help or another topic. Don't wait too long to take advantage of expert help when you can do it now. 

Is homework important for my learning journey?

Now that we've answered questions on who made school and homework and why it was invented, we can ask ourselves if homework is crucial in our learning journey. 

At the end of the day, homework can be a crucial step to becoming more knowledgeable and disciplined over time. 

Exercising our memory skills, learning independently without a teacher obliging us, and processing new information are all beneficial to our growth and evolution. However, whether a homework task is enriching or simply a filler depends on the quality of education you're getting. 

Who Invented Homework? The Origins and Development

October 18th, 2023 — 5 min read


The origins of Homework dates back to ancient Greece and Rome. It is said that Roberto Nevelis, an Italian teacher, invented homework in 1905, but so far there is no credible historical evidence to support this, which makes it become an Internet myth. Pliny the Younger, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, and Hausmann are the most likely true inventors of homework.

I. Introduction

When it comes to homework, what is on your mind? Excited or struggling?Some people enjoy doing homework and challenging themselves with hard questions; Others dislike homework and struggle with it, considering that homework deprives them of their spare time. Whether you like it or not, homework is an essential part of our learning and growth.

For teachers, homework is a way to help students to consolidate knowledge, develop critical thinking skills, and improve problem-solving ability etc. As students, we might not view homework like our teachers, and maybe just complete homework to avoid punishment.

So we've all been doing homework since we were kids. Have you ever wondered who invented homework? This blog will elaborate on the origins and development of homework. Let's take a look at who started the journey of homework, and who made homework became a daily task for students.

II. Historical Background

Before tracing the origins of homework, let us ponder a question: was homework born at the same time as education? The answer is no. Education has a long history that can be traced back to ancient times. In the early stages, homework is not a part of educational system. Before writing was invented, people mainly passed on the values, traditions and life skills to the next generation through oral teaching. However, the advent of writing further developed the spread of civilization and diversified the ways of education.

who invented homework reddit

There is no homework in early education, so how do students consolidate their learning? In the ancient Greek city-states, private education was prevalent. Students in Athens discussed, debated, and thought in study groups organized by philosophers or scholars to further reinforce knowledge. Students would participate in various public presentations to access their learning outcomes and broaden their horizons and thinking. In addition, by participating in all kinds of practical activities, such as museum visits, art exhibitions, and sports activities, students can apply what they have learned to real-life situations. Therefore, although there was no homework at that time, students could enhance their understanding and application of learning in a variety of ways.

With the continuous development of society, education gradually developed from social and family education to formal schooling, with professional people specialized in teaching subject knowledge and skills. So who invented homework? When did homework appear?

III. Inventors and Key Figures of Homework

1.roberto nevelis.

who invented homework reddit

2.Pliny The Younger

who invented homework reddit

3.Johann Gottlieb Fichte

So who invented homework? Johann Gottlieb Fichte,the German philosopher, was probably the true inventor of homework. He was not only the father of German nationalism, but also contributed and influenced the education of Germany. He helped develop people's schools, making mass schools and compulsory education an innovation at that period. The state provided education for students and also infiltrated patriotism into students' lives and encouraged them to contribute to the country.

Fichte's educational ideas had a profound influence on German education at that time. His ideas were widely adopted and implemented in the German education system, so that homework became an important part of students' learning.

who invented homework reddit

4.Horace Mann

Horace Mann, a 19th-century American educator and politician, was often credited as a key figure in the development of homework. After graduating from Brown University, he actively supported education reform while serving as the state education secretary. He was regarded by many historians as the "father of American public education" and devoted himself to the educational system.

Mann not only engaged with teachers, but also participated in many public education presentations and visited other schools in and out of the state. While visiting schools in Europe, he was inspired by the Prussian education system and decided to reform education in Massachusetts, one of which was homework. He believes that homework can help students consolidate what they learn in class and develop the ability to learn independently and solve problems.

who invented homework reddit

So, what about the future of homework in the United States?

IV.Brief History of Homework in the US

Early 20th century: the rise of the homework ban.

In the 19th century, while economic development was limited, most children in the United States dropped out of elementary school to ease the burden on their families. With the increasing development of society, more and more children can receive basic secondary education, but some problems about homework appear at the same time. Many parents are tired of helping their children with homework and even think that school work has no meaning.

who invented homework reddit

1920s and 1930s: The Ban was Intensified

Under the influence of the homework ban, primary and secondary schools in big cities in the United States have made a series of reform measures to protect the physical and mental health of preschool children. Public schools in New York are prohibited from assigning homework to students in grades one through three. San Diego, California, bans homework for elementary and middle school students in grades 1 through 8. Chicago bans all public elementary and secondary schools from assigning homework to students at any grade level.

1950s: In response to the Cold War, Homework Returned

In 1957, the launch of the Soviet Union's Sputnik satellite brought a huge shock to the United States, and also changed the American concept of education. For 50 years, the United States had little homework, putting it at a competitive disadvantage against the Soviet Union. However, the incident galvanized the urgent need for educational reform in the U.S. government and educational institutions, including a reevaluation and reform of homework. Teachers began to provide students with targeted assignments to meet each student's learning needs. Assignments have also become more challenging and practical to help students consolidate what they have learned and expand their thinking and application skills.

Early 2000s: Homework Attracted Great Attention

In the early 1980s, the United States government organized a special committee to investigate the learning level of American students, and the survey results were very painful for Americans. That is, the basic education in the United States is poor, 23 million adults do not have enough literacy. The results of the survey triggered wide attention and discussion, and the US government and educational institutions took a series of measures to improve basic education, including improving the salary and training level of teachers, requiring teachers to assign more personalized tasks, and ensuring the improvement of teaching quality and student learning outcomes.

Looking at the history of homework in the United States, we can see from the introduction of homework to the promulgation of homework bans, to the re-strengthening of homework. The homework not only had a positive impact, but also triggered negative voices. Around the world, homework has been a controversial topic. Does it do more good than harm? Or does it do more harm than good? Let's look at the advantages and disadvantages of homework.

V. Homework: Pros and Cons

When we talk about the pros and cons of homework, we should focus on the amount of homework assigned.

Proper Amount of Homework

1.Improve the quality of school education By assigning homework, students can consolidate the knowledge learned in class, deepen the understanding and application of knowledge, enhance the learning effect, and the quality of school education will also be improved.

2.Expand students' knowledge and improve students' learning skills Through homework, students can further expand their learning, accumulate more knowledge, and improve learning skills such as reading, writing, problem solving etc. 3.Promote students' independence and sense of responsibility By completing homework independently, students can improve their self-management skills and independent thinking. At the same time, the completion of homework also requires students to have a sense of responsibility and complete the task on time, which is very important for the growth and development of students.

who invented homework reddit

Excessive Homework

1.Lead to lack of sleep and affect students' health Long hours of assignment writing will leave students without enough time for rest, which is bad for students' physical and mental health.

2.Putting too much pressure on students Students need to bare academic pressure under heavy homework tasks, which may lead to anxiety and boredom of students.

3.Deprive students of their spare time Students need enough time for rest, recreation and other interests, which are very important for their well-rounded development. Too much homework may leave students no time to participate in other activities and limit their room for development.

4.Lead to cheating Too much homework may lead to cheating. When students are faced with too much homework pressure, they may look for other ways to complete the homework, such as copying or having someone write it for them. Such behavior not only violates academic ethics, but also weakens students' learning effect and ability


You may not have thought and explored who invented homework, but I believe you have been crazy about homework. From birth to development, homework has experienced the baptism of the long river of history, and also continues to develop from time to time. Although homework once aroused the resistance of parents and students, it has to be admitted that homework plays a key role in consolidating knowledge and improving ability in our learning process. What do you think of homework? Do you think homework should be born?

With the rapid progress and development of science and technology, many countries continue to combine science and technology with education, and launch a variety of educational products to meet the learning needs of students in the new era. When it comes to homework, the use of technology has also opened up many new possibilities. While you may still be used to writing your homework with a pen and paper, or typing your answers on a computer, now is the time to try StudyX , a tool dedicated to providing a whole new way of doing homework. What is the innovation in it? Try it and you'll see!

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Origin and Death of Inventor of Homework: Roberto Nevilis

Roberto Nevilis

Roberto Nevilis is known for creating homework to help students learn on their own. He was a teacher who introduced the idea of giving assignments to be done outside of class. Even though there’s some debate about his exact role, Nevilis has left a lasting impact on education, shaping the way students around the world approach their studies.

Homework is a staple of the modern education system, but few people know the story of its origin.

The inventor of homework is widely considered to be Roberto Nevilis, an Italian educator who lived in the early 20th century.

We will briefly explore Nevilis’ life, how he came up with the concept of homework, and the circumstances surrounding his death.

Roberto Nevilis: The Man Behind Homework Roberto Nevilis was born in Venice, Italy, in 1879. He was the son of a wealthy merchant and received a private education.

He later studied at the University of Venice, where he received a degree in education. After graduation, Nevilis worked as a teacher in various schools in Venice.

Table of Contents

How Homework Was Born

The Birth of Homework According to historical records, Nevilis was frustrated with the lack of discipline in his classroom. He found that students were often too focused on playing and not enough on learning.

To solve this problem , he came up with the concept of homework. Nevilis assigned his students homework to reinforce the lessons they learned in class and encourage them to take their education more seriously.

How did homework become popular?

The Spread of Homework , The idea of homework quickly caught on, and soon other teachers in Italy followed Nevilis’ lead. From Italy, the practice of assigning homework spread to other European countries and, eventually, the rest of the world.

Today, homework is a standard part of the education system in almost every country, and millions of students worldwide spend countless hours each week working on homework assignments.

How did Roberto Nevilis Die?

Death of Roberto Nevilis The exact circumstances surrounding Nevilis’ death are unknown. Some reports suggest that he died in an accident, while others claim he was murdered.

However, the lack of concrete evidence has led to numerous theories and speculation about what happened to the inventor of homework.

Despite the mystery surrounding his death, Nevilis’ legacy lives on through his impact on education.

Facts about Roberto Nevilis

  • He is credited with inventing homework to punish his students who misbehaved in class.
  • Some accounts suggest he was a strict teacher who believed in disciplining his students with homework.
  • There is little concrete evidence to support the claim that Nevilis was the true inventor of homework.
  • Some historians believe that the concept of homework has been around for much longer than in the 1900s.
  • Despite the lack of evidence, Roberto Nevilis remains a popular figure in the history of education and is often cited as the inventor of homework.

Conclusion – Who invented homework, and how did he die

Roberto Nevilis was a visionary educator who profoundly impacted the education system. His invention of homework has changed how students learn and has helped countless students worldwide improve their education.

Although the circumstances surrounding his death are unclear, Nevilis’ legacy as the inventor of homework will never be forgotten.

How do I make myself do my homework?

What is Roberto Nevilis’ legacy?

Roberto Nevilis’ legacy is his invention of homework, which has changed how students learn and has helped countless students worldwide improve their education.

Despite the mystery surrounding his death, Nevilis’ legacy as the inventor of homework will never be forgotten.

What was Roberto Nevilis’ background?

Roberto Nevilis was the son of a wealthy merchant and received a private education. He later studied at the University of Venice, where he received a degree in education.

After graduation, Nevilis worked as a teacher in various schools in Venice.

What was Roberto Nevilis’ impact on education?

Roberto Nevilis’ invention of homework has had a profound impact on education. By assigning homework, he helped students reinforce the lessons they learned in class and encouraged them to take their education more seriously.

This concept has spread worldwide and is now a staple of the modern education system.

Is there any evidence to support the theories about Roberto Nevilis’ death?

There is no concrete evidence to support the theories about Roberto Nevilis’ death, and the exact circumstances surrounding his death remain a mystery.

What was Roberto nevilis age?

It is believed that he died of old age. Not much information is available on his exact age at the time of death.

Where is Roberto Nevilis’s grave

While many have tried to find out about his Grave, little is known about where he is buried. Many people are querying the internet about his Grave. But frankly, I find it weird why people want to know this.

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Who Invented Homework? Here’s What We Need To Know

who invented homework reddit

Homeworks are probably the last thing you want to deal with as a student. And for some of us, we rather do them than our boring work routine.

Those of us who have had formal education may recall the aggravation of receiving homework from the majority of our teachers. Your teacher directs your class to answer a certain page of your book or write an essay about the topic you just discussed before class ends.

who invented homework reddit

Picture: USA Today

But have you wondered, how homework became a thing? It’s a man named Roberto Nevilis, according to Google and other websites. The concept of homework was straightforward. When students exited the classroom, Nevilis felt that his lessons had lost their meaning. He decided to adopt other tactics after being disappointed that kids did not excel themselves despite his efforts. As a result, homework was created. He established homework as a kind of punishment for underperforming students, and that as a result, billions of children remain frustrated at school and at home almost a thousand years later. However, some people think it is just a myth, and even better, some say Roberto doesn’t exist!

So who really invented homework?

who invented homework reddit

Picture: Through Education

Many sites on the internet say that Roberto Nevilis was the first instructor to introduce homework to students. However, when you look at the websites that assert this, you’ll notice that they’re largely forums or obscure educational blogs. Roberto Nevilis is not even mentioned on any credible website or news source. Alternatively, some of the less trustworthy publications would confirm his participation without using the phrase “allegedly” or something imprecise like “scientists believes” or something like.

When he developed homework, Nevilis was said to be a teacher in Venice, Italy. Some say he invented it around 1095, while others say it wasn’t until 1905 that it swept throughout Europe and the rest of the world. It was allegedly used as a means of retaliation against students who underperformed in class. Students who did well in class were exempt from having to do homework.

So, we are not really clear about who might have invented the homework. But, We can trace back to who was in charge of making homework the way it is now: Johann Gottlieb Fichte was a German philosopher who is credited with establishing German nationalism.

who invented homework reddit

Picture: Quotes Gram

Prussia had a hard time inciting nationalism among its citizens in 1814. Citizens might opt to return to whatever they were doing instead of serving the country after the war, rather than giving their time and sacrifice to the country. There was no sense of patriotism or pride.

As a result, Fichte devised the Volkschule — a compulsory nine-year education akin to state-provided basic and lower secondary education – and the Realschule – a secondary school open only to aristocrats. The Volkschule students were assigned homework as a tactic to demonstrate the state’s dominance even during their free time.

The system spread throughout Europe, although not to the point of ultimate dominance. Some countries have maintained their unique systems, which is why Finland does not assign homework to its pupils. However, in 1843, when the United States still used private tutors or informal courses, Horace Mann changed public education after visiting Prussia and learning about their educational system, which he then integrated into the American system. As a result, homework became a worldwide practice.

While this may be a debatable issue of who really invented homework, let’s face the fact that homework really gave all of us a miserable point in life!

Sources:  Through Education , Tutor Bin , College Homework Help

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Who invented homework.


Modified & Updated: 23 Sep 2023

Published: 24 Sep 2022

Modified: 23 Sep 2023

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who invented homework

Homework is the bane of many students’ lives. Many would rather see it disappear as it takes away precious time that people would rather use for hobbies or family time. “Who invented homework ?” is something a student may have exclaimed at some point. And we understand the frustration.

For all the hate that homework gets, its origin is surprisingly unclear. If you search for “who invented homework?” online, you may see many results. Some claim that a specific person invented it, but these sources may not be very accurate. In this article, however, we will uncover the truth about homework’s origins. We’ll also dive a little bit into the age-old question of whether or not homework is actually effective.

The Origins of Homework Are A Bit Disputed

As mentioned earlier, homework has a bit of a mysterious history. The concept of asking students to do work after school may have been around as long as school has existed. On the other hand, it might not be that old. Its history may even depend on exactly how you define “homework”. What is sure is one thing. Like many things, it’s possible that homework doesn’t have a single inventor. Instead, the concept has many progenitors, some of whom thought of it independently.

Now you may be wondering: don’t some sites claim that homework has a single inventor? Don’t they credit homework to a certain Roberto Nevillis? Well, that’s what we’re going to discuss next.

Roberto Nevillis, the “Inventor” of Homework, May Not Have Actually Existed

If you search for “homework inventor” on Google, you may see several hits for a certain Roberto Nevillis. He was supposedly an Italian teacher, whom many websites claim invented homework. However, if you do some deeper research, you will realize that this information may be inaccurate.

The first warning sign is that the Wikipedia article for homework makes no mention of this Nevillis person. While it’s true that Wikipedia can be edited by anyone, it does have standards. Notably, important claims need sources; otherwise, editors will remove them. If he indeed invented homework, surely the article would mention him, with references even. But nope, no mention of him at all.

Another warning sign is that the sources that mention Nevillis even disagree on when he came up with the concept. Some claim he invented it in 1905, which seems really recent. Other sources claim that he instead invented it in 1095. That makes little sense either considering how different education was at the time. Formal education was still a rarity in Europe in that era, especially among the lower classes. Since most lower classes who did receive education got them at home, technically all their studies were homework!

Indeed, if Nevillis did exist, information about his life seems almost non-existent. It’s entirely possible that no such person ever lived. In any case, if anyone did invent homework, it probably wasn’t Nevillis.

Homework Existed As Early As The Roman Empire

In reality, early concepts about “homework” may have already existed for centuries. Of course, this may not necessarily mean the homework we know today. However, this idea still encompasses activities like practicing or studying at home.

According to some writers, Pliny the Younger may have espoused an early form of “homework”. He encouraged students to improve their speaking skills outside formal education centers. For example, if the students were at home, they could hone their skills there. Obviously, speaking is more of physical activity than writing or reading . As such, practicing at home may not exactly be “homework”. Still, this shows that the idea of doing education-related work at home has been around for so long.

Johann Gottlieb Fichte May Have Invented Homework As We Know It

As for the “title” of the true inventor of homework, there are two people who have a good claim. One of them is Johann Gottlieb Fichte. Many historians consider him to be the father of German nationalism. Apart from his political life, he made some contributions to education. And unsurprisingly, these contributions happened because he wanted to promote a united German state.

Fichte’s innovation was Volksschule , a form of compulsory education. The state would support students and provide them with education. In exchange, the state would become part of people’s private lives. Homework began as a way for education to have a place in home affairs. By extension, this also extended the state’s role to the home. His ideas continue to influence German education to this day.

Horace Mann Helped Popularize The Concept In The United States

Another person who can claim to be the inventor of modern homework is Horace Mann. Mann was the first president of Antioch College, an Ohio-based institution that still exists today. Mann visited Europe and found the European methods of education to be inspiring. Upon returning to America, he decided to implement what he observed back in his native Massachusetts. Among the things he introduced was, you guessed it: homework.

His ideas weren’t limited to homework, however. Today, teachers and others praise Mann for his efforts to make education more accessible to the masses. Some even consider him to be the progenitor of common schools in America. Through his efforts, many reforms took place in Massachusetts. Among these was the establishment of a proper school board. He also strived to ensure that teachers had proper training and were effective in their jobs. Apart from his education career, he also served in the US House of Representatives. There, he advocated not just for good quality education but also for women’s rights.

Centuries after his death, Mann’s efforts to promote public schooling are still felt today. Homework-hating students may want to curse him for helping popularize homework. On the other hand, it would probably be better to thank him for allowing students to have the chance to have formal schooling at all.

Homework Was Unpopular At First

Considering homework’s ubiquity these days, you might think that the American education system embraced it from the get-go. But actually, it was not popular at first. Reasons varied, including people being skeptical about the need to do school-related activities at home. Many even thought that the idea would be harmful to the well-being of students.

Notable efforts against it included California banning homework in 1907; a ban which lasted for over a decade. Many prominent publications also questioned the practice. In the 1930s, the American Child Health Association, a government agency, even claimed that homework was a form of child labor!

How did the education sector warm up to the idea of homework? It comes from an unlikely source: the Cold War. At the time, the United States believed it had the lead over the Soviet Union when it came to education and science. However, events such as the launch of Sputnik 1 dampened this enthusiasm. This led to the so-called Sputnik crisis of the late 1950s. Homework was actually one of the ways the US thought it could close this perceived gap with the Soviets. By making students study at home, the US hoped that this could give them an edge in education.

Some Countries Ban or Discourage Homework

Even to this day, homework’s existence is controversial. Many education experts remain skeptical about its worth. Others also criticize it on the grounds that it gives students less time for hobbies, family time, or other free time. Indeed, homework (among other factors) has been linked to increased anxiety among students.

A number of countries either limit or even ban homework outright. One notable example is Finland . Finnish education is quite different compared to the rigid forms of education in other countries. Notably, students have shorter school hours, and even at school, they have plenty of free time to do hobbies or interact with classmates and friends. Schooling is also less competitive, as there’s less emphasis on grading and instead an emphasis on the student’s learning.

You may think that the Finnish system would make students lazy, given the lack of pressure. But actually, Finland’s education system ranks among the best in the world. Not only that, but Finns in general are also happier than many of their peers. It’s gotten to the point that many other nations are taking inspiration from Finland when discussing education reforms.

Meanwhile, contrary to what you may see in some sources, Japan does have homework. Indeed, it’s actually a bit of a cliche in Japanese media for students to do homework during their summer breaks. Given Japan’s education system is very competitive, it’s probably no surprise that homework is a facet of a student’s life there.

Schooling Itself Has a Long History

While we’re here, it may be worth having a short recap about the history of formal education. That way, we can contrast between homework and schoolwork, and put things into context better.

How old is schooling? It may depend on how you define “education”. If schooling means one learning from another, it’s probably existed since the dawn of humanity. If schooling means formal education, as in some kind of classroom setting, that’s somewhat more recent but still ancient.

The Mesopotamian civilization , the world’s oldest, already had schools. So did many of the ancient civilizations you may be familiar with, such as the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Indians, and so on. One notable thing was that, during those days, it was mostly boys who received formal education. They would learn how to read, write, do activities, and learn skills. Women usually did not attend school as societies then believed that they should focus on household and family work. Some women did receive education, but they were exceptions and not the norm.

Education gained more significance during the Middle Ages, mainly for religious reasons. Many centers of learning, such as Oxford in Britain, date to this time.

In the United States, schooling began almost as soon as the first colonies appeared. Boston Latin School was the first public school to open in 1635; incredibly, it’s still open after all these years. Eventually, schools popped up across the country, often in the form of single-room schoolhouses. A few of these still exist today, but most schools in the US are now much bigger than that.

So What Have We Learned Today?

Here are our takeaways: Homework as a concept dates back centuries, depending on how you define homework. Roberto Nevillis, whom some websites claim to have invented homework, probably didn’t even exist at all. Two people, Johann Gottlieb Fichte and Horace Mann, helped popularize the concept. And finally, even today, there’s debate as to whether or not it’s necessary at all.

The next time you’re doing your homework and want to curse someone for your extra work, don’t blame Nevillis. After all, it’s hard to blame a person who may actually be the figment of the imagination of some internet writer.

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  1. IsItBullshit: the concept of homework was originally created ...

    Scientists believed that Roberto Nevilis from Italy started homework in 1095. He was a school teacher in Venice. This seems a little dodgy for a few reasons: "Scientists believed" - surely it would be Historians? What Science is being done to determine it here? And why is it believed not believe? It seems a little made up.

  2. Who invented homework, and why was it invented? : r/College ...

    It wasn't until the Cold War that Lord Satan himself came and brought back one of the most deadly weapons he could find in hell: workbooks, worksheets, pencils, pencil sharpeners, and worst of all no.2 pencil! The thought of it just chills my bones!

  3. Why is homework a thing? : r/AskHistorians

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    Aztec Gods and Goddesses Celtic Gods and Goddesses HISTORICAL TIMELINES Ancient Civilizations Timeline Ancient Egypt Timeline Ancient Greece Timeline WW2 Timeline and Dates The inventor of homework may be unknown, but its evolution reflects contributions from educators, philosophers, and students.

  5. Who Invented Homework and Why Was It Invented?

    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.

  6. Debunking the Myth of Roberto Nevilis: Who Really Invented Homework?

    Not Roberto Nevilis. Online, there are many articles claiming that Roberto Nevilis was the first educator who came up with giving students homework. But if you look at the websites that claim this, you'll find that it's mostly forum websites or obscure educational blogs. No credible website or news source even mentions the name Roberto Nevilis.

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  9. Who Invented Homework and Why

    Nov 24, 2023 Who Created Homework? Italian pedagog, Roberto Nevilis, was believed to have invented homework back in 1905 to help his students foster productive studying habits outside of school. However, we'll sound find out that the concept of homework has been around for much longer.

  10. Who Invented Homework? The History of a School Staple

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  13. Origin and Death of Inventor of Homework: Roberto Nevilis

    The inventor of homework is widely considered to be Roberto Nevilis, an Italian educator who lived in the early 20th century. We will briefly explore Nevilis' life, how he came up with the concept of homework, and the circumstances surrounding his death. Roberto Nevilis: The Man Behind Homework Roberto Nevilis was born in Venice, Italy, in 1879.

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  15. Who Invented Homework?

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  17. I hate the inventor of homework : r/memes

    1. darknyte123 Me when the: • 2 yr. ago. The guy that invented homework used it as a way to punish his students. 1. Zealousideal_Ad_9120 Nice meme you got there • 2 yr. ago. Yeah now it is popular in the world teachers use that from Friday and i hate that. 1. The_unfunny_man • 2 yr. ago. Send them deeper down.

  18. When you just can't seem to find the right answer

    For the problem above, I tried it by subtracting 600 J with 100 J so then the kinetic energy is 500 J. Then I put 100 J for the other because it would add to 600 J. Then when the height is reduced to half i just cut the potential energy in half from the original to be 300 J. I am really confident with this answer. The last one I am pretty lost.

  19. No, we really are not going to do your homework. : r/history

    Part of doing homework/research is applying and practicing the skills required for understanding and working with history. Asking people directly in r/history defeats that very purpose. In many cases it is plagiarism, which is a serious academic offence, and anti-cheating software does scan reddit for similarities.

  20. The guy who invented homework invented it as a punishment, : r ...

    13 comments ThePotato4477 • 17 • 3 yr. ago Does that mean in our current predicament. We are being punished for covids existance DarkCharizard81 • 3 yr. ago Not really. By homework, I mean schoolwork after school. Not just schoolwork at home. Schools are punishing us as like how they usually do. Zoriox_YT • 15 • 3 yr. ago Yes

  21. I wanna kill the guy who invented homework : r/SchoolSystemBroke

    The concept isn't even bad, it's just the way that it's used in western schools, especially in US and Canada. Also depends on what your learning. ldkanam. • 10 mo. ago. The guy that invented home work deservers the deepest layer of hell may he fucking explode and then explode again. Flaky-Injury-5427.

  22. Homework is the beginning of work/life imbalance and should ...

    I almost failed calc in high school because my teacher was the exact opposite of you. Would talk/"teach" the entire period, and in the last 5 minutes be like "ok, your homework is problems 1-60 due tomorrow bye" and most problems were lettered a through fucking h. I remember one time doing the math and there was over 300 multi-step, in depth questions due overnight.

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  24. r/MLPLounge on Reddit: Who invented homework?

    Posted by u/[Deleted Account] - 21 votes and 48 comments

  25. 11th grade history test : r/Quick_Homework_Help

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