History Of Homework: The Ultimate Guide To Finding Out The Truth

Homework is an integral part of the educational process. Whether you’re a high school, college, or university student, you definitely deal with various assignments beyond classes. Some of them are pretty easy, but there are tasks that require a lot of time and energy. That’s why most students hate them with a fiery passion. And it is easy to understand.

When you’re young, you want to spend time with your friends, devote it to interesting hobbies, or travel. No one dreams about sleepless nights because of the essay, math problem, or capstone projects. 

But when was homework invented? Who was that cruel person who offered schools this idea of loading students with assignments? Was it a good decision, and should we just ban it these days?

The Stages of Homework Development

Reading various articles on the history of homework, you can find different theories about its invention. But the most common is the one that points to Roberto Nevilis. They say he was an educator who wanted to punish his lazy students. Nevertheless, we know that you are used to checking facts and trusting reliable sources, and it is important to understand that there are no credible papers with the name Roberto Nevilis. The chances are it is just the good theory of how invented homework to show young people that laziness is a sort of sin.

However, when you’re looking for ideas about where did homework come from, you can find more information about various regions and their school systems. Below you’ll find brief information about the development of home tasks for ages. And even if you don’t know the inventor of homework for sure, it changes nothing. What really matters is understanding the purposes and value of homework for modern students. 

Homework in Ancient Rome

Looking for an answer to the question “why was homework invented?”, you can find yourself reading about ancient Rome. There was an oratory teacher who asked his students to work on their public speaking skills at home. It was a perfect opportunity to polish their skills when you’re alone and feel confident. 

Of course, it is not easy to compare this assignment with written works that modern students deal with. However, ancient Romans had their challenges, and it was really stressful for them to speak in public. Imagine that you need to read your essay in front of the whole class. You surely would like to have a couple of hours to get prepared at home.

Homework in 19th Century

Horace Mann is often called the father of modern homework. He was an American politician who became famous due to his educational reforms. 

In 19th-century Germany, there were compulsory assignments that students of the “People’s Schools” had to do at home. Actually, it wasn’t something intended to improve their performance or broaden their knowledge. It was rather a part of political games. 

However, despite this fact, the educational reform spread across other countries and eventually came to Horace Mann, who traveled to Prussia at that time. The educational reformer brought this system to America.

Home Tasks Were Considered to Be a Child Labor

There was an interesting period in the history of the USA when the Child Health Association claimed homework child labor. It was in 1930 when children were required to help their families with household chores. This kind of work wasn’t considered to be child labor, while school assignments were painted as an unacceptable practice. 

20-21th Centuries in the History of Homework

The late 19th and early 20th centuries are well-known for their progressive education reforms. People received access to various educational institutions that were trying to stand among competitors and make the educational process more interesting and attractive. 

If in previous years home assignments were associated with punishment and disciplinary action, later educators started looking for ways to make them more personal. This was a time when essay topics like “How I see my life in 5 years” and “How I spent my summer” became popular.

These days homework is something that we can’t imagine our educational system without. However, the process is moving in the opposite direction: a lot of people believe these assignments are not necessary. 

Definition of Homework

Now, when you know how did people understand home assignments in different countries and time periods, it is important to answer the question: what is homework now? Do modern students need it, what advantages and disadvantages does it have?

To speak honestly, there is no versatile definition of homework. There is one thing that is common for all types of assignments: you should do it at home, after your classes. All types of tasks are chosen by professors depending on their educational programs and the vision of the study process.

It means students in different countries receive different home tasks these days. Moreover, students of the same university may have various things to do. For example, you can write an essay, while other people work on experiments and interesting practical projects. Or your professor may assign you a case study that includes several stages: from researching the information to conducting interviews and organizing surveys.

As you can understand, most debates about homework bans are related to the idea: should students have any kind of work beyond classes? And it is time to find out what benefits these tasks have, and whether they are really worthy. 

Why Was Homework Invented? What Are Its Purposes?

Of course, as it is impossible now to understand who created homework, we can’t ask him or her about one’s purposes. The legend about Roberto Nevilis says these assignments were invented as punishment for lazy students. But it is obvious that they have numerous advantages as well.

Homework Makes You More Disciplined

Most students think that using the same information, writing papers, working with formulas over and over is boring and time-consuming. They may be right, but don’t forget about the practice of discipline. You can’t master any skill without repetition. You may find some concepts very difficult to understand now, but working on homework every day, you will find yourself in a situation when things become easier. And this practice of discipline can be called the primary reason why does homework exists. It is not about school or college, and you need baby steps to achieve any goals in your life. 

It Teaches You Time-Management

When you receive the home task, you need not just complete it and deliver, and you need to do it accordingly some terms. In this way, professors encourage students to develop their time management skills. You learn to plan your time, divide big projects into small milestones, and take responsibility for these processes. These skills are very important in regular life, so don’t miss the opportunity to master them while studying.

It Helps You to Cover the Topic

It is obvious that the amount of time allotted for each discipline in school or college is not enough to grasp new material. Even the smartest students find it difficult to understand the core concepts of each subject just in 1 hour or even less. Working on your home task, you can set your own rhythm of learning so that you feel more confident in classes.

Should Homework Be Banned in Schools?

Though there are pretty many advantages that explain what is homework for, and why it should be accepted in schools and colleges, there are a lot of people who believe these tasks are useless and even dangerous.

In most cases, it goes about children who are not able to deal with constant stress and pressure. These are the most common arguments provided in discussions on the topic “should homework be banned in schools?”

Homework Discourages Creative Endeavors

If you spend several hours per day on your study assignments, you don’t have enough time to pursue creative hobbies. Students might like to play football, read books, learn an instrument, or take up something new, but their school tasks take away their free time from developing new skills. Life doesn’t end with your educational institution, and it is important to develop comprehensively. 

Home Tasks Are Typically Standardized

Teachers and professors often assign tasks that are necessary to boost your grades. Although you can develop your time management skills and discipline, you’re not able to think out of the box. These assignments are not developed in accordance with your knowledge level. Besides, when you feel tired from school, you won’t likely absorb new information.

Homework Doesn’t Boost Your Performance

It is considered that home tasks are not able to make your grades better; sometimes, they even make it worse. Of course, it goes about typical assignments that are time-consuming. When you need to write an essay when you want to watch a movie or spend these hours with friends, it creates a rather negative attitude towards the whole education system. If students are not motivated to study, a pile of homework won’t help them to improve their performance.


So, wrapping up, this coin definitely has two sides. Some schools have already implemented projects without homework, especially for younger students. But there are still a lot of educational institutions that find this form of study pretty useful. So, if you’re required to provide homework, do your best to get the most out of it.

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