Who Invented Homework: When And Why?

The story behind the invention of homework is a long and fascinating one that has been pondered by students, parents, and teachers alike. It often comes up in year-round discussions when school administrators and other educators in what can be considered the upper echelon decide what goes into the standard curriculum.

Students often wonder who the real inventor of homework is because for the most part students don’t want to do it or they find that it is boring and useless or they are simply overwhelmed with the amount they get on a nightly basis. While students may want to banish it altogether, it might be interesting to some to learn about homework’s origins. Here are some interesting things you may not have known:

Homework’s Most Likely Origins (Who and When)

The invention of homework is often credited to an Italian educator named Roberto Nevilis, who in the early 20th century began to incorporate advanced methods of enhancing the learning process by requiring students to apply the lessons learned in the classroom to similar problems or situations at home. Since a lot of the early assignments dealt primarily with repetition the first assignments students began to see at this dealt a lot with language and composition, arithmetic, and science. Later on, research and critical thinking made their way to written take-home assignments that required students to find and organize material into original ideas presented in structured essays.

Homework’s Main Purposes in Today’s World

While the belief that homework assignments are not effective tools for mastering academic subjects, there is a lot of research that suggests the contrary. The study indicates that through regular practice and application, students are able to understand a subject better and thus gain a more thorough or well-rounded knowledge of the area. Homework is particularly most effective among young children because so many of the connections made in the brain that are linked to critical, analytical, and creative thinking are formed at this age. And the responsibility of having to do homework constantly (e.g., each night), helps reinforce classroom lessons.

Homework’s Role in Advancing Education

One of the biggest problems that opponents of homework point to is the lack of variety in the tasks that need to be done. When homework fails to challenge students and becomes seen as a mandatory but menial activity, students lose interest and will work through assignments without gaining any of the benefits of reinforcement. As such, educators are must overcome this problem by incorporating new ways of engaging and encouraging students to approach the work with enthusiasm in order to advance education in today’s world where there are so many outside distractions and social stressors.

By no means is homework a tool for managing a student’s time while at home. Nor is it used as something that could control a student’s behavior outside of the classroom. It is, primarily, a resource to gauge a student’s understanding of concepts, ability to problem-solve and measure progress in specific subjects and ideas. One may never see the end of homework in the near future (on the contrary – the number of homework assignments given each night seems to be increasing), but one can certainly come to understand how it all began.

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