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History of Homework – Facts on Homework Invention

Let’s face it, nobody likes doing homework. That is probably the case with most students, and was probably the case with their parents, as well as all generations that came before them. But, while it might seem that homework has been making students miserable since the dawn of time, historically speaking, it is a relatively new concept. Public schools as we know them have only emerged in the last 150 to 200 years or so, which has coincided with the industrial revolution. Therefore, homework in its current form couldn’t have been invented earlier than that. But, in order to get some actual answers, let check out some homework facts first.

When Was Homework Invented?

Roberto Nevilis - founder of homework

The first written record on homework dates back to 1905.  A teacher by the name Roberto Nevilis lived in the city of Venice, and he is credited as the person who invented homework.

Mind you, it is very likely that he wasn’t the first teacher to give their students homework, but no actual written information on homework before 1905 exists, and therefore it is impossible to determine the real inventor of homework.

Why Was Homework Invented?

As mentioned before, public school systems have been around for less than 200 years. Before that, education used to be a luxury only the privileged few could enjoy, as well as those which were studying to become priests. Most people were uneducated and so were their children, and even as first public schools appeared, children weren’t spending a lot of time in them, let alone doing homework afterward, because they were expected to help with running a household.

Well, how did homework start then? Seeing as the industrial revolution opened new jobs which required advanced skills, students were taught subject matter which was more complex, and it was probably impossible for them to learn everything by just paying attention in class, and that is probably why teachers had homework invented. It wasn’t devised as a way of punishing misbehaving students, as most seem to think. It was the changing industrial and economic landscape that indirectly made homework a permanent staple of modern education.

Why Is Homework Important?

The reason why educators have created homework is that it ultimately benefits the students. Sure, it may take up some of their time after school, but there are a lot more pros when it comes to homework. For instance, homework helps students improve and develop their memory, as well as their analytical skills. Arguably the most important benefit of homework is its ability to instill discipline and positive work habits, which are definitely something students will need all throughout their lives.

Also, homework encourages children to think for themselves and seek out solutions without anyone else’s input, which helps them become more resourceful and independent. In class, children have a fairly limited amount of time to process the subject matter, which often requires more of their time in order to have them comprehend it in full. At home, they have all the time they need. Plus, having homework will teach them to use other learning resources, such as libraries, archives, as well as how to find the right studying materials online. This will especially come in handy once they need to write complex assignments, such as book reports, essays, and science projects.

When it comes to importance of homework for parents, they will have a better idea of what their child is learning at school, and how easy or complicated it is for their children to complete their homework assignments. This means they can intervene if their child is struggling. As you can see, viewing homework as a punishment is a wrong way to go about it. It may not be the most fun thing a child can do, but it is necessary.

How Much Homework Should Students Have?

It is pretty difficult to come up with a definitive answer to this question, because school and homework requirements are different in every culture and/or country. Let’s take the US as an example. According to the National Education Association (NEA), the average amount of homework per grade level students should do is about 10 minutes. This means that your average fifth-grader should do at least 50 minutes of homework. We are talking about 50 minutes per day, which is a good amount of time, but there are those which are advocating 10 minutes of homework per day, or no homework at all.

Other are in favour of setting a word limit. For example, every student should write 2000 words every night, but then you can argue that this approach emphasized quantity over quality. Seeing as students spend hours every day playing games or being on social media, some of that time should be allocated to doing homework. The effects of too much homework, on the other hand, are fatigue and diminished cognitive abilities in students, which means we need to find the right balance.

Is Homework Good or Bad?

There are very few reasons which can be named against homework. The only real situation where homework is harmful is when there is simply too much of it. Other than that, homework is beneficial in every way, especially in this day and age. For instance, children nowadays process an insane amount of information on a daily basis, most of which is coming from the world of social media and websites like YouTube. They have everything at their fingertips, and they can access any kind of content within seconds, which leads to instant gratification.

If they are used to all of their needs being fulfilled immediately, they may find it difficult to navigate the challenges of real life later on, because anything worthwhile will require them to put in a lot of hard work now, and then reap the benefits of that hard work at a later time. That is why homework is so important.


Homework, while sometimes difficult and boring, is one of the best tools educators have to teach students how to think and develop good habits. That alone is reason enough for it to remain a part of every school system.