Who Invented Homework? And Why?

How Old Is The Idea Of Homework?

Nobody truly knows how old the concept of homework really is. For all we know, when cave dwellers taught their kids how to hunt pigs, they may have given them practice spears to go home with a try hunting down their siblings.

The most modern homework concept started in Italy, which is no surprise if you think about what Italy has. Within the Italian borders is the country called the Vatican. The Vatican has had millions of learners, readers and writers flocking to visit all year round, so it makes sense that intellectuals and academics would congregate in Italy.

The first documented case where a teacher gave written homework for students was in 1901. A teacher called Roberto Nevilis would routinely ask his students to prepare written material at home to bring into class. He worked out of Venice, and many believe he introduced the modern version of the idea of doing written work at home instead of exclusively in a classroom.

Why Did Roberto Nevilis Give Out Homework?

Remember, he only invented the modern version of homework. The past is littered with examples of students taking their work home with them. However, Roberto started the trend because his students were affluent enough to afford free time.

What Does Free Time Have To Do With The Pain Of Homework?

Most students in the early 1900s and before were not blessed with very much free time. When they arrived home, they would have to work, care for their siblings, do housework or attend to their social duties.

Roberto’s students were not super rich, but their parents were affluent enough so that their kids didn’t have to work or do chores. For the first time in a long time, schoolchildren had enough free time to actually complete a school project and take it in to school when it was finished.

How Much Homework Should Kids Have?

School and college is becoming much too easy, and it is a bad idea to make life easier for children because life isn’t fair and they need to learn this lesson for when they grow up.

The National Education Association (NEA), the National PTA (NPTA), and many liberal politicians say that students should have “10 minutes of homework per grade level.” For example, if you are in the fourth grade, then you have 40 minutes of homework.

That seems fair on a per-night basis, but some advocate it should only be 10 minutes of homework per grade level “Per Week.” That is way too little when you consider that students spend more than two hours per night playing on their phones or games consoles. Surely, it is better that they are doing homework rather than seeing how many times they can catch Pokémon in one night.

Others believe students should be given a lot of homework to the point where a word count should be assigned, i.e. instead of setting X amount of hours per week, they should be set X amount of words per week.

The idea is that making students write more homework will prepare them for when they have to complete 12,000 word dissertations in college. However, this puts quantity before quality.

For example, when students are set written English coursework where they have to write a short story, many students write thousands of words on pages and pages. Yet, a teacher’s High School coursework marking guide indicates that it is possible to get an A* grade for a short story with just two pages that have a total of 700 words. Those 700 words may have taken the student six weeks to write, but the point is that quality counts more than quantity.

Are You Working Too Hard On Your Homework?

Most students’ homework time is divided up in this way: Around 80% of the time staring at the screen, the wall, and checking Facebook or Google+, and 20% of the time researching and writing.

A senior lecturer at the Stanford University School of Education called Denise Pope, Ph.D., published a study suggesting that some students will choose homework over developing other skills, friendships, and relationships because they feel forced to do so. She found that the biggest influencer were not their parents–but their parents’ expectations. In other words, some students are prepared to give up some of the best years of their life and spend them primarily on schoolwork, just because they do not want to disappoint their parents.

Is Homework Bad For You?

Underachieving students, or students with dyslexia or dyscalculia, will often suffer when doing homework because they need somebody there to explain and re-explain a concept to them before they can understand it enough to remember it. For them, homework is frustrating and takes a serious toll on their self-esteem to the point where they will avoid it at all costs.

YouTube To The Rescue

These days, students with dyslexia and dyscalculia are able to turn to YouTube to help them with their homework. There are even YouTube videos dedicated to people who suffer from dyslexia and dyscalculia.  Plus, things have become slightly easier now that more teachers know about dyslexia and understand that it is not just about reading anymore, it also has a wide variety of behavioral and cognitive problems associated with it.

Conclusion – Should Schools Assign Less Homework?

The Morton High School in Illinois did an experiment with the students in the East Campus. Over 6000 students were released from the burden of having to do homework for a year, but in return, their classes were made more rigorous where more information and more exercises were packed into each lesson. Though the test was limited, they saw that student’s grades didn’t change. Removing homework didn’t have a negative effect because they simply made the lessons more rigorous. Given the fact that it is so easy for students to cheat on their homework these days thanks to Google and essay writing services, one wonders if homework will soon be a thing of the past.

7 thoughts on “Who Invented Homework? And Why?

  1. For me, homework was real torture just like for people with dyslexia and dyscalculia, thanks God I don’t have ’em. So my mom was the person who re-explained it to me couple of times, helped me to solve my algebra homework and math homework. Math was really the worst of all homeworks.

    1. Any chance you’ll be swinging up north to MN anytime soon? I mean, even Bourdain made it up here to sign books (at the Mall of America, of all places, and during single-digit temperatures; I bet he’ll be back here ASAP!).

  2. “Greetings! Very helpful advice within this post! It is the little changes which will make the greatest changes. Thanks for sharing!”

  3. homework is pointless. it stresses students out, and we learn nothing from it, as many students get their homework answers online or from another classmate (which is what i do). it serves no true purpose except to stress us out and cramp our hands.

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