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Who Invented Homework and Why?

who invented homework and why

HISTORY OF HOMEWORK and the question "who invented homework?"

Homeworks have always been a bone of content between teachers and students. While students are completely against it and think of it as a hindrance to their post-class bliss, teachers believe it to be an important part of academic life. Most students dislike homework and would have pondered over “who invented homework” numerous times. I can relate to that feeling as I was also one of those whose who hated home assignments. The thought of spending hours doing homework can be irritating to most students and all they wish is that their school stopped burdening them with loads of homework.

The importance of homework on a child’s overall development is a never-ending debate that we might discuss sometime later. As a student, a question that would often cross my mind was “Who invented homework, and what was his thought behind such an invention?” After detailed research, I found out that homework was invented as punishment. Yes, you read that right! Read this piece to know more about the invention which has indeed become a punishment for students not only at school but at home as well.

Who Invented Homework and why?

There are many claims on the inventor of homework. The history of homework goes back to the 1st Century AD. The earliest mention of homework was found in ancient Rome when a Romanian teacher Pliny Younger asked his students to prepare some oratory activities at home. To their amazement, they found that the pupils who were weak at oration were developing their oratory skills faster. After all, every person was trying to develop content writing skills in an informal atmosphere. As evidence, we can rely on the homework assignments which belonged to one of Pliny’s students Quintilian which date back to around 1st Century, AD. But your search for “who invented homework” doesn’t end here.

As we dig further into history, we find the person who invented homework as a mode of punishment for his students. It is believed that in 1905, the term ‘homework’ was coined by an Italian pedagog, ROBERTO NEVELIS. The idea behind homework was simple. As a teacher, Nevelis felt that his teachings lost essence when his students left the classroom. Disappointed by the fact that his students failed to outperform themselves despite his hard work made him sad. He then thought of different measures and thus homework was born. Homework, as we see today was not the objective of Nevilis. He rather saw it as an alternative means of punishment to pay close attention to learning post-class as physical punishment was not an option.

WHAT WAS THE IMPACT OF HOMEWORK ON EDUCATION?

By the end of the 19th century, the world witnessed a huge transformation in the then education system along with the various reform movements in industrial England. With the advent of formal schooling, the idea of homework has been reformed and polished taking a much formal shape. People of different castes started getting educated together which lead to increasing competition. Teachers, to increase the skills and efficiency of students, started giving homework. Needless to say, it led to significant improvement in a student’s skill set and helped in increasing the quality of education. The question “who invented homework and why?” still remained with students.

Though the system of giving homework existed before, Nevelis formalized this practice. Homework was nothing but a way of increasing the knowledge of students at home. It helped students in retaining information for a longer duration of time and also boosted their problem-solving skills. It was accepted worldwide as a part of important training during studies. Since then homework and assignments have become a part and parcel of a student’s life and so did the question “who invented homework.”

Since then the practice of homework has started. Students were provided tasks and assignments which had to be completed at home within a given time, failing which they would be punished. Teachers had to check the tasks and grade their performance. Students who did everything correctly would be the highest grade holder. The practice of homework rapidly started to be popular all over the world after those times. Thus your search for “who invented homework” ends here as we can say Roberto Nevelis was the real inventor of homework and address him as the Father of Homework.

OBJECTIVES OF ADOPTING HOMEWORK WORLDWIDE

Invariably one of the earliest objectives of homework was to burden students but with time, this concept got a much more modern approach. The modern concept of homework was conceived by Johann Gottlieb Fichte, who was trying to rally support for a unified German State.

The basic purpose of assigning homework to students often aligns with schooling in general. Scientific reports have shown that homework plays a very vital role in student’s studying and skill improvement. Roberto Novelis defined the main goals of homework that works even better even for present days:

  • Thanks to homework, Students learn to work thoroughly
  • Students learn to do their homework without any external assistance, making them independent
  • Students learn to be responsible, initiative individuals
  • Triggers creative juices of the students
  • Students can choose their rhythm of work
  • It’s impossible to get these great skills without making tasks at home individually

The success of teaching depends on the success of homework preparation. People argue that homework is absolute wastage of time but several experienced psychologists insist that it is quite necessary to assimilate both the knowledge and activity methods. It helps them to think out of the box, manage their time and skillset.

Just like two sides of a coin, everything has positive and negative aspects. Hence, along with the question “who invented homework”, we should also look at the two faces of the wide practice of Homework.

Pros of Homework for Students

Many educators argue that homework is beneficial to students as it enhances learning and lets educators verify that students apprehend their lessons. Nowadays many students learn from home and distance learning has become very popular. The Corona pandemic has also been a significant cause that forced people to opt for the online (study from home) method of schooling. Students need to think about the pros of homework, while thinking about “who invented homework and why?” Whether you choose in-school or distance mode of education, homework can be beneficial in the following ways-

  • Homework help in inculcating the discipline of practice among students. Scientists proved that students can memorize the material only if they keep working on it from time to time as goes the saying “Practice makes a man perfect.”
  • When we need to understand and master any scientific things, it’s important to repeat them regularly. This is what homework can give to students.
  • Students learn time management and research skills without the aid of external assistance. This makes them self-sufficient and independent.
  • With better learning, students develop a deeper understanding of the subject with conceptual clarity.
  • Promoting student-parent communications. While parents helping with homework, they get to know the strengths and weak areas of their child that need to be worked upon.
  • Preparing for future class lessons
  • Engaging students in active learning boosts their creativity.
  • Students learn to stay motivated and positive.

Keeping in mind these major benefits, teachers establish the importance of homework and argue that it is an essential part of learning.

Cons of Homework for Students

It is clear from the above discussions that Roberto Nevelis was well-intended. However, its use and application have some major flaws. This is what made students despise homework on most occasions. They view it as an additional burden that circumvents their free time and consistently wonder, “who invented homework”. Students often complain that homework given is an extension of the part that remains incomplete in class. Apart from this, invariably there are some other points that students use to illustrate their points. Few reasons why they criticize homework are-

  • Homework has been identified in many sources as a significant source of stress, anxiety for students. A Stanford University researcher in 2014 showed that students to spend more time on homework experience more stress, anxiety, emotional exhaustion, physical health problems, lack of balance, and even attention from society. This can take a severe toll on the student’s physical and mental health.
  • Lack of time for physical activities due to homework. This becomes a hindrance to growth and development which is directly interfering with academic achievements.
  • According to a study by the Dresden University of Technology, there is no evidence that homework improves academic performance. It may be helpful for academically weaker students only.
  • The risk of obesity, diabetes and other ailments increases three folds.
  • No time for vacations
  • Excessive time commitment

The above list clearly explains the students’ fair share of the complaints.

FINAL WORDS ABOUT HOMEWORK

Students, parents, and teachers whether they like it or not, the concept of homework born from Roberto Nevelis survived centuries in the education system. The technological revolution has also played a role to ease the burden of homework.

Unless there is a huge reconstruction of the education system proving bigger disadvantages of homework, there is no way out of homework as educators believe it is not appreciable to completely negate the benefits of homework in the light of a few demerits.

Therefore, it might be a good idea to take some time to embrace its benefits and focus on its positive aspects rather than wondering “who invented homework”. It is just a good way to systematize all the studies material and memorize it well.   

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