Who Invented Homework? Top Facts for all Students

Homework has been the topic of much debate for all teachers and students. While students are completely against it, teachers believe that it is an important part of academic life. Therefore, a tug- of- war is always the result. Is homework helpful or harmful is the topic of a different discussion. Who invented homework is something we will look at in this piece. But before we move on, let’s look at some of the perceptions of homework students and teachers have. 

Who Invented Homework

Who Invented Homework: A Teacher’s Perspective

According to a majority of teachers and educators, homework is very important for a student’s academic growth. It helps the students practice and at the same time reinforces their classroom learning. Invariably, teachers contend that unless students practice at home what they learn at school, their learning will be incomplete. In general, there are a variety of reasons that teachers offer to support homework-

  • Better learning
  • Continuous improvement
  • Reinforcement learning
  • Practice 
  • Deeper understanding
  • Conceptual clarity
  • Doubt generation
  • Constant revision
  • Self motivated learning

Keeping in mind these major benefits, teachers argue that homework is an essential part of learning.

Who Invented Homework: A Student’s Perspective

Student’s, on the other hand, despise homework on most occasions. They view it as an additional burden that circumvents their free time. More often than not, students argue that homework is given in excess and is a part of what the teacher is unable to finish in the class. Invariably, there are some strong points students use to illustrate their stand. They criticize homework for the following reasons-

  • Wastage of time
  • Additional burden
  • Lack of consistency
  • Lack of motivation
  • Inability to add value to grades
  • Extreme level of difficulty
  • Absence of holistic growth
  • Excessive time commitment
  • Health related problems
  • Stress and frequent episodes of anxiety

The above list clearly indicates that homework is not all rosy. There are demerits to it which students explicitly claim. However, to completely negate the importance of homework in the light of a few disadvantages is not the right approach.

Who Invented Homework: Walk into History

We can go on debating if homework is helpful or harmful for hours without a break. However, it might be a good idea to pause and understand who invented homework and what was its objective. Going back in time, we see that homework was invented by Roberto Nevilis, an Italian pedagog. The idea behind homework was simple. As a teacher, Nevilis felt that his teachings lost essence when they left the class. Disappointed by the fact that students failed to outperform themselves despite his hard work, he decided to take different measures. Therefore, homework was born. Homework, as we understand today, was not the objective of Nevilis. He rather saw it as an alternative means to punishment as physical punishment was not an option. 

Digging Deeper

With the advent of formal schooling, the idea of homework also took a formal shape and form. It became a means to make learning more effective and ensure retention. The practice of giving homework is said to have existed before Nevilis in ancient Roman and Greek empires. However, it was only with Nevilis that it became formalized. Homework came to be seen as a means of motivation for students to engage in classroom learning post school hours. In the absence of such a motivation, students hardly made any effort to indulge learnings from school. 

Historically, thus, homework came around as a means to improve student learning and was seen in two lights. As an alternative way to punish students and make them pay close attention to learning post class. Secondly, as a motivation for students to indulge in greater learning after school hours. Irrespective of the approach, the objective was to ensure that students do not leave behind classroom learning. Rather they carry it along and work upon it after school to perform better in the longer run.   

Who Invented Homework: The Objectives

Let us take a brief look at the objectives with which homework was invented. Invariably, the earliest objectives of homework was not to burden students with unnecessary work, rather to add to their learning. Some of the objectives include-

Reinforcement of learning

There was a common conception that students seldom paid attention to class work once they left the premises, An out of sight, out of mind phenomenon was taking place. In such a situation, students came to class the next day with a clear slate, with almost no connection to the previous class. In such a situation, establishing a connection between lessons of two consecutive days became difficult. Therefore, the first objective of homework is to reinforce the learning. The idea is simple, if students practice what they learn in class, it will establish a strong foundation. Consequently, students will recall it easily in the next class, facilitating their learning.

Considerations of Time

Whether desirable or not, each class and lesson with a time limit. Which means that a teacher has to complete his or her syllabus within that time frame. However, at times, some topics and students require more time than that. Inability to dedicate the extra time, results in partial learning. Here comes the second objective for those who created homework. The idea is to encourage students to look back on their lessons and achieve conceptual clarity, when they have no time to bind them. Thus, homework is a way to facilitate learning which is not within the confines of time, like classroom learning. 

Practice and Application

In addition to facilitating inter class linkage from one day to the next, homework also enables practice and application. There are several facets to this claim. Firstly, in the absence of an obligation, students seldom practice. Despite the fact that practice has proven time and again its ability to score better grades, it is underutilized by students. Homework plays an important role in reversing this trend. As a formal obligation, homework encourages students to practice their lessons and learning. Secondly, it also enables students to apply their learning in real life. Some of the best homework assignments are the ones that require practical application of theory learnt in class. 

Who Invented Homework: What Went Wrong?

The final section of this discussion will focus on what went wrong with homework. It is clear with the above points that those who invented homework were well intentioned. However, its use and application has some major flaws. This is what has made students despise homework. Firstly, contrary to helping students practice and create a connect in class the next day, teachers assign irrelevant sections of work. Mostly these sections have not been touched in class and thus, seem very difficult to students. Secondly, the amount of homework often surpasses the maximum threshold. In an attempt to facilitate maximum learning, teachers go overboard and burden students with more than what they can handle. In such a situation, students feel mental pressure and often succumb to depression and anxiety. These are but a few reasons that homework has been unable to achieve its true objectives

Final Word

Whether we like it or not, homework is an important part of student life. Unless there is an overhaul of the education system, there is no way out of homework. Therefore, it might be a good idea to embrace its benefits and view it as a way to improve one’s grades. Owing to technological revolution, students can now shoulder the burden of their homework with online homework help platforms. Such interventions like TutorBin help students to complete their homework by seeking assistance from global subject matter experts and skyrocket their grades.

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