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Who Invented Homework? A Big Question Answered with Facts

who invented homework and how did he die

Crystal Bourque

who invented homework and how did he die

Delving into the intriguing history of education, one of the most pondered questions arises: Who invented homework?

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?

Who Invented 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

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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

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Mention of homework appears in the writings of Pliny the Younger, meaning we can trace the term ‘homework’ back to ancient Rome. Pliny the Younger (61—112 CE) was an oratory teacher, and 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 and how did he die

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

The roots of homework extend to ancient times, but 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

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

So who created homework in the United States?

The history of education and homework now moves to Horace Mann (1796—1859), an American educational reformer, spent some time in Prussia. There, he learned more about Germany’s Volksshulen, forms of education , 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 and how did he die

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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

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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. College students, however, could still receive homework tasks as part of their formal schooling.

who invented homework and why

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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 public 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, American 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)

The focus of American education shifted again when the US Department of Education was founded in 1979, aiming to uplevel education in the country by, among other things, prohibiting discrimination ensuring equal access, and highlighting important educational issues.

In 2022, the controversial nature of homework in public schools and formal education 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 and the educational process that we know today (read more about Who Invented School ).
  • 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 seem 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.
  •   So, while completing assignments outside of school hours may be beneficial, spending, for example, a day on homework is not ideal.

Explore how the Findmykids app can complement your child’s school routine. With features designed to ensure their safety and provide peace of mind, it’s a valuable tool for parents looking to stay connected with their children throughout the day. Download now and stay informed about your child’s whereabouts during their academic journey.

who created homework

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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 student learning experience , 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 helps students learn how to be organized, plan, strategize, and solve problems on their own. Encouraging effective study habits is a key idea behind homework, too.

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

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Homework aims to ensure individual 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, school 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. Personal responsibility amongst students is thereby promoted.
  • 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 with 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. Time for students can get almost totally taken up with out-of-school assignments.
  • 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. For underperforming students, especially, this can have a negative impact on their confidence and overall educational experience.
  • 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, and can lead to a decline in physical activities. These studies counter that the potential effectiveness of homework is undermined by its negative impact on students.

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

The question of “Who Invented Homework?” delves into the historical evolution of academic practices, shedding light on its significance in fostering responsibility among students and contributing to academic progress. While supported by education experts, homework’s role as a pivotal aspect of academic life remains a subject of debate, often criticized as a significant source of stress. Nonetheless, when balanced with extracurricular activities and integrated seamlessly into the learning process, homework continues to shape and refine students’ educational journeys.

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 achieve 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!

who invented homework and how did he die

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Who invented homework and why?

The creation of homework can be traced back to the Ancient Roman Pliny the Younger, a teacher of oratory—he is generally credited as being the father of homework! Pliny the Younger asked his students to practice outside of class to help them build confidence in their speaking skills.

Who invented homework as a punishment?

There’s a myth that the Italian educator Roberto Nevilis first used homework as a means of punishing his students in the early 20th century—although this has now been widely discredited, and the story of the Italian teacher is regarded as a myth.

Why did homework stop being a punishment?

There are several reasons that homework ceased being a form of punishment. For example, the introduction of child labor laws in the early twentieth century meant that the California education department banned giving homework to children under the age of fifteen for a time. Further, throughout the 1940s and 1950s, there was a growing emphasis on enhancing students’ learning, making homework assignments more personal, and nurturing growth, rather than being used as a form of punishment.

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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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who invented homework and how did he die

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.

homework

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.

homework

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 invented homework and how did he die

Who Invented 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 Created Homework and When?

The concept of homework predates modern educational systems, with roots in ancient Rome. However, Roberto Nevilis is often, yet inaccurately, credited with inventing homework in 1905.Depending on various sources, this invention is dated either in the year 1095 or 1905.

The invention of homework is commonly attributed to Roberto Nevilis, an Italian pedagog who is said to have introduced it as a form of punishment for his students in 1905. However, the concept of homework predates Nevilis and has roots that go back much further in history.

The practice of assigning students work to be done outside of class time can be traced back to ancient civilizations, such as Rome, where Pliny the Younger (AD 61–113) encouraged his students to practice public speaking at home to improve their oratory skills.

It's important to note that the idea of formalized homework has evolved significantly over centuries, influenced by educational theories and pedagogical developments. The purpose and nature of homework have been subjects of debate among educators, with opinions varying on its effectiveness and impact on student learning and well-being.

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.

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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.

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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 created 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. 

Market Business News

Busting the Myth of Roberto Nevilis – Who Actually Invented Homework?

Homework is an indispensable piece of the instructive procedure in the American education system. It makes learning simpler and progressively powerful. However, all of us who have attended classes in an educational institute remember the frustration of hearing the word homework from our teacher’s mouth. Before the end of the class, we would be instructed to write an essay or answer a few questions on what we had just been taught.

Roberto Nevilis - who many incorrectly say invented homework - image 4444

I am sure many students must have been curious enough to try and find out which genius came up with the idea of homework. A student would have probably looked it up while struggling with a particular homework assignment. Who was it who believed that homework would magically transform the educational system overnight?

The search would have come with a man named Roberto Nevellis who invented homework to punish his students who did not perform at par with the others. But like many other things on the internet, this isn’t a fact. Thankfully students looking to master a subject, or require online homework help can connect with online tutors and homework help services.

Who was Roberto Nevilis?

There isn’t a single credible website or a news article about this man who changed the educational system all over the world. According to a lot of websites, Nevilis was a teacher in Venice and allegedly invented homework as a means of punishing students who did not perform well in class. Some sites claim the year was 1095 while others claim it was 1905.

Neither of these can a possibility. In the year 1095, there was no formal system of education in and around Europe. It was a time when Pope Urban II had just started preaching the First Crusade after the Byzantium delegation asked for his help against the Turks. I am sure Mr. Nevilis would have found it very hard to teach a class during those times, let alone hand out homework. Even in the year 1500, private tutors were employed to teach the English nobility.

It could not have been 1905 either because 4 years before that, in 1901, the state of California passed an act to ban homework for any child studying below the 8th grade. The law was passed because during that period homework was frowned upon by parents. They felt that homework interfered with a child’s time for house chores. Sweet times, right? Anyway, Mr. Nevilis couldn’t have been spreading the idea of homework telepathically before he started practicing it himself.

Ancient Education

Historically homework existed in one form or another ever since the inception of education in the earliest civilizations. Singing, poetry, playing instruments, even the study of the bible required reading and practice at home. In ancient times only the wealthy were educated because all the teachers taught privately.

The rest of the society was busy with making a living. The earliest evidence of education in formal settings comes from the Sumerian civilization. In the Sumerian society, schools were called Edubas where scribes learned how to read and write on cuneiform or clay tablets. However archaeological evidence only found the exercises etched in the tablets. There are no inscriptions about the educational system.

Father of the Homework System

While the label of homework inventor cannot be pinned on one person, Johann Gottlieb Fichte can be called the father of the modern homework system. Johann Gottlieb Fichte was a German philosopher and known to be the founding father of German nationalism. In the year 1814, the people of Prussia had lost their sense of nationalism. They are choosing to go back to their livelihood instead of serving the country after the war.

Johann Gottlieb Fichte came up with the concept of Volksschule and Realschule. Volksschule was a mandatory education system of nine years which was similar to primary and lower secondary school. Realschule was a secondary school system reserved for the aristocrats. Homework was a part of Volkschule to demonstrate the nation’s power on common people and stir up a sense of nationalism.

This system was slowly adopted all over Europe, although some countries like Finland continued with their system of education and refused to impose homework on the students. In 1843, Horace Mann , the secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education then, went to Europe and visited the schools in Prussia. On his return, he presented his findings in the seventh annual reports of the board. These reports were reprinted all over the United States and led to the reform of the American educational system.

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Interesting related article: “ Top schools to study business .”

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  2. Who Invented Homework And Why? History & Importance

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  3. Who invented homework and why?

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

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COMMENTS

  1. Who Invented Homework ️ Why & When Was it Invented? History and

    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.

  2. Who Invented Homework and Why Was It Invented?

    Who Invented Homework? Retrieved from Pexels. 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.

  3. The Homework Dilemma: 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?

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

    Roberto Nevelis of Venice, Italy, is often credited with having invented homework in 1095—or 1905, depending on your sources. Upon further inspection, however, he seems to be more of an...

  5. Debunking the Myth of Roberto Nevilis: Who Really Invented ...

    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.

  6. Who Invented Homework and Why

    Nov 24, 2023. Who Invented 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.

  7. Horace Mann

    Horace Mann. Born: May 4, 1796, Franklin, Massachusetts, U.S. Died: August 2, 1859, Yellow Springs, Ohio (aged 63) Awards And Honors: Hall of Fame (1900)

  8. Busting the Myth of Roberto Nevilis

    A student would have probably looked it up while struggling with a particular homework assignment. Who was it who believed that homework would magically transform the educational system overnight? The search would have come with a man named Roberto Nevellis who invented homework to punish his students who did not perform at par with the others.