Who Invented Homework?

Admit it or not, there was once a phase of your student life that you almost hated attending school because of the heavy load of homework. You may consider it a nuisance and a waste of time because of the additional workload instead of just you relaxing at home or spending your summer vacation. If it makes you feel better, you are not alone in this anti-homework sentiment.

Homework has been around for over a hundred years. It was there during World War II and the Cold war (we are sure students hated it even back then). But who came up with this idea of making students work at home and who invented homework? You are going to find out in just a few seconds!

When was homework invented?

Roberto Nevilis, an Italian teacher, invented homework for his American students in the year 1905. Initially, he included homework in his educational process as a punishment to his students for losing their motivation to learn after leaving the classroom. As an educator, he must explore ways wherein he can instil the hunger for learning in his students. And that is how homework was born. Eventually, many educators also adopted this in their educational system. It is one of a few reasons why homework became universally accepted and a socially acceptable form of learning.

Roberto Nevilis, who was considered an educational reformer was quite considerate of his students. This is why he set criteria for giving out common homework assignments to the students that must be followed by the instructors (definitely not something you’ll find on obscure educational blogs).

Homework must be easy and feasible

Robert Nevilis invented homework to serve as a supplementary activity for their classroom discussions. Having said that, he made it clear that homework should be easy and students should be able to do it in a decent amount of time. Aside from that, it must also be easily understandable and related to the topics discussed. And lastly, the students should be able to assess themselves after the activities.

Although homework is not included in the compulsory public education system, most education authorities consider giving a homework assignment a great opportunity to improve the students’ academic performance. This is also included in the progressive education reforms which is fostering efficiency.

Rigorous homework is out of the question

Aside from being a supplemental activity, homework assignments must serve as a review of the topic discussed. And a review doesn’t have to be that long and tricky because students also have their own time to spend outside their academic life. A few items will be enough just for the students to recall the concepts. Plus, too much homework can cause stress to students which can greatly affect the children’s health.

Roberto Nevilis invented homework to help his students remember the topic of the lessons more, and assigning complicated homework can result in burnout. This can have negative impacts on the mental health of students. In fact, academic burnout experienced by learners led to homework bans in the Pacific State of California. This was effective for all learners under 15 years old. Moreover, in 1930, the American Child Health Association stated that homework was a form of child labor.

Homework must not be given every day

According to Nevilis, giving regular assignments is not required. Educators must only assign the created homework if all individual students can work independently on the subject. He also said that assignments must not be given before introducing the subject matter by the teacher himself.

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Pros and Cons of Homework

Even though most students dislike homework, it is still assigned and probably will continue to be assigned until the end of time. But why exactly? Let’s have a look at both the pros and cons of homework:


  • The learning process in homework helps students learn a variety of skills apart from studying, including time management organization to self-motivation. Students are motivated to take responsibility for their work and school assignments to develop positive research practices through home learning.
  • Homework helps students revise the lectures that they have studied in the classes previously. Students are more likely to remember key information if they are given tasks that reinforce what has been taught the previous day. They can also apply this information in their practical lives.
  • For teachers, assigning homework at home is a helpful way to understand whether students understand the lectures they have been teaching. As a result, teachers can better tailor their approaches to the needs of children. They can identify the students that need extra attention and help them in their learning process.


  • The word ‘homework’ is scary in itself. Workloads that are too large and tasks that become increasingly difficult often result in stress, anxiety and motivation among students. They might even get cranky!
  • Children can make use of their free time to both relax and learn – interacting with friends and family, riding a bike, reading a book, or learning how to ride a bike. Sitting at home completing mandatory assignments prevents them from going out and playing, which of course impacts their mental health. Physical activity, essential for maintaining cognitive function for student learning, may also be compromised by long periods of sedentary work.
  • A study by John Hattie, professor of education at the University of Melbourne, shows primary school homework has a zero effect since kids are doing separate and unrelated projects instead of reinforcing what’s been learned. According to Hattie’s research, homework is effective only when students are assigned learning tasks that require them to revise previously taught material.


Now you know all about the history of homework!

We hope that the information we mentioned above proved to be useful for you. If you have more relevant information that you think our readers would love, feel free to share it with us. Next Up – See Who Invented Exams.

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