Lists & Tips

Who Invented Homework and Why

Ever wonder who invented homework and why they would ever do such a terrible thing? Let's have a look at the fascinating history of homework.
Allan T
Nov 24, 2023

Who Created Homework?

Italian pedagog, Roberto Nevilis, was believed to have invented homework back in 1905 to help his students foster productive studying habits outside of school. However, we'll sound find out that the concept of homework has been around for much longer.                                                                                                                                                              

Homework, which most likely didn't have a specific term back then, already existed even in ancient civilizations. Think Greece, Rome, and even ancient Egypt. Over time, homework became standardized in our educational systems. This happened naturally over time, as the development of the formal education system continued.                                                        

In this article, we're going to attempt to find out who invented homework, and when was homework invented, and we're going to uncover if the creator of homework is a single person or a group of them. Read this article through to the end to find out.

Who Invented Homework and When?

It is commonly believed that Roberto Nevelis from Venice, Italy, is the originator of homework. Depending on various sources, this invention is dated either in the year 1095 or 1905.

It might be impossible to answer when was homework invented. A simpler question to ask is ‘what exactly is homework?’.

If you define it as work assigned to do outside of a formal educational setup, then homework might be as old as humanity itself. When most of what people studied were crafts and skills, practicing them outside of dedicated learning times may as well have been considered homework.

Let’s look at a few people who have been credited with formalizing homework over the past few thousand years. 

Roberto Nevilis

Stories and speculations on the internet claim Roberto Nevilis is the one who invented school homework, or at least was the first person to assign homework back in 1905.

Who was he? He was an Italian educator who lived in Venice. He wanted to discipline and motivate his class of lackluster students. Unfortunately, claims online lack factual basis and strong proof that Roberto did invent homework.                                                                                                        

Homework, as a concept, predates Roberto, and can't truly be assigned to a sole inventor. Moreover, it's hard to quantify where an idea truly emerges, because many ideas emerge from different parts of the world simultaneously or at similar times, therefore it's hard to truly pinpoint who invented this idea.

Pliny the Younger

Another culprit according to the internet lived a thousand years before Roberto Nevilis. Pliny the Younger was an oratory teacher in the first century AD in the Roman Empire.

He apparently asked his students to practice their oratory skills at home, which some people consider one of the first official versions of homework.

It is difficult to say with any certainty if this is the first time homework was assigned though because the idea of asking students to practice something outside classes probably existed in every human civilization for millennia. 

Horace Mann

To answer the question of who invented homework and why, at least in the modern sense, we have to talk about Horace Mann. Horace Mann was an American educator and politician in the 19th century who was heavily influenced by movements in the newly-formed German state.

He is credited for bringing massive educational reform to America, and can definitely be considered the father of modern homework in the United States. However, his ideas were heavily influenced by the founding father of German nationalism Johann Gottlieb Fichte. 


After the defeat of Napoleon and the liberation of Prussia in 1814, citizens went back to their own lives, there was no sense of national pride or German identity. Johann Gottlieb Fichte came up with the idea of Volkschule, a mandatory 9-year educational system provided by the government to combat this.

Homework already existed in Germany at this point in time but it became a requirement in Volkschule. Fichte wasn't motivated purely by educational reform, he wanted to demonstrate the positive impact and power of a centralized government, and assigning homework was a way of showing the state's power to influence personal and public life.

This effort to make citizens more patriotic worked and the system of education and homework slowly spread through Europe.


Horace Mann saw the system at work during a trip to Prussia in the 1840s and brought many of the concepts to America, including homework.   

Who Invented Homework and Why?

Homework's history and objectives have evolved significantly over time, reflecting changing educational goals. Now, that we've gone through its history a bit, let's try to understand the "why". The people or people who made homework understood the advantages of it. Let's consider the following:                                                  

  • Repetition, a key factor in long-term memory retention, is a primary goal of homework. It helps students solidify class-learned information. This is especially true in complex subjects like physics, where physics homework help can prove invaluable to learning effectively.
  • Homework bridges classroom learning with real-world applications, enhancing memory and understanding.
  • It identifies individual student weaknesses, allowing focused efforts to address them.
  • Working independently at their own pace, students can overcome the distractions and constraints of a classroom setting through homework.
  • By creating a continuous learning flow, homework shifts the perspective from viewing each school day as isolated to seeing education as an ongoing process.
  • Homework is crucial for subjects like mathematics and sciences, where repetition is necessary to internalize complex processes.
  • It's a tool for teachers to maximize classroom time, focusing on expanding understanding rather than just drilling fundamentals.
  • Responsibility is a key lesson from homework. Students learn to manage time and prioritize tasks to meet deadlines.
  • Research skills get honed through homework as students gather information from various sources.
  • Students' creative potential is unleashed in homework, free from classroom constraints.

The person or people who made school and homework understood the plethora of advantages homework had and the positive effect it had on students' cognitive functions over time.

Struggling with your Homework?

Get your assignments done by real pros. Save your precious time and boost your marks with ease.

Get Expert Help

Who Invented Homework: Development in the 1900s

Thanks to Horace Mann, homework had become widespread in the American schooling system by 1900, but it wasn't universally popular amongst either students or parents. 

The early 1900s homework bans

In 1901, California became the first state to ban homework. Since homework had made its way into the American educational system there had always been people who were against it for some surprising reasons.

Back then, children were expected to help on farms and family businesses, so homework was unpopular amongst parents who expected their children to help out at home. Many students also dropped out of school early because they found homework tedious and difficult.

Publications like Ladies' Home Journal and The New York Times printed statements and articles about the detrimental effects of homework on children's health. 

The 1930 child labor laws

Homework became more common in the U.S. around the early 1900s. As to who made homework mandatory, the question remains open, but its emergence in the mainstream sure proved beneficial. Why is this?

Well, in 1930, child labor laws were created. It aimed to protect children from being exploited for labor and it made sure to enable children to have access to education and schooling. The timing was just right.

Speaking of homework, if you’re reading this article and have homework you need to attend to, send a “do my homework” request on Studyfy and instantly get the help of a professional right now.

Progressive reforms of the 1940s and 50s

With more research into education, psychology and memory, the importance of education became clear. Homework was understood as an important part of education and it evolved to become more useful and interesting to students. 

Homework during the Cold War

Competition with the Soviet Union fueled many aspects of American life and politics. In a post-nuclear world, the importance of Science and Technology was evident.

The government believed that students had to be well-educated to compete with Soviet education systems. This is the time when homework became formalized, accepted, and a fundamental part of the American educational system. 

1980s Nation at Risk

In 1983 the National Commission on Excellence in Education published Nation at Risk:

The Imperative for Educational Reform, a report about the poor condition of education in America.  Still in the Cold War, this motivated the government in 1986 to talk about the benefits of homework in a pamphlet called “What Works” which highlighted the importance of homework. 

Did you like our Homework Post?

For more help, tap into our pool of professional writers and get expert essay editing services!

Get Expert Help

Who Invented Homework: The Modern Homework Debate

Like it or not, homework has stuck through the times, remaining a central aspect in education since the end of the Cold War in 1991. So, who invented homework 😡 and when was homework invented?

We’ve tried to pinpoint different sources, and we’ve understood that many historical figures have contributed to its conception.

Horace Mann, in particular, was the man who apparently introduced homework in the U.S. But let’s reframe our perspective a bit. Instead of focusing on who invented homework, let’s ask ourselves why homework is beneficial in the first place. Let’s consider the pros and cons:

Pros:

  • Homework potentially enhances memory.
  • Homework helps cultivate time management, self-learning, discipline, and cognitive skills.

Cons:

  • An excessive amount of work can cause mental health issues and burnout.
  • Rigid homework tasks can take away time for productive and leisurely activities like arts and sports.

Meaningful homework tasks can challenge us and enrich our knowledge on certain topics, but too much homework can actually be detrimental. This is where Studyfy can be invaluable. Studyfy offers homework help.

All you need to do is click the “do my assignment” button and send us a request. Need instant professional help? You know where to go now.

Frequently asked questions

Who made homework?

As stated throughout the article, there was no sole "inventor of homework." We've established that homework has already existed in ancient civilizations, where people were assigned educational tasks to be done at home. 

Let's look at ancient Greece; for example, students at the Academy of Athens were expected to recite and remember epic poems outside of their institutions. Similar practices were going on in ancient Egypt, China and Rome. 

This is why we can't ascertain the sole inventor of homework. While history can give us hints that homework was practiced in different civilizations, it's not far-fetched to believe that there have been many undocumented events all across the globe that happened simultaneously where homework emerged. 

Why was homework invented? 

We've answered the question of "who invented homework 😡" and we've recognized that we cannot pinpoint it to one sole inventor. So, let's get back to the question of why homework was invented. 

Homework arose from educational institutions, remained, and probably was invented because teachers and educators wanted to help students reinforce what they learned during class. They also believed that homework could improve memory and cognitive skills over time, as well as instill a sense of discipline. 

In other words, homework's origins can be linked to academic performance and regular students practice. Academic life has replaced the anti-homework sentiment as homework bans proved to cause partial learning and a struggle to achieve conceptual clarity.

Speaking of, don't forget that Studyfy can help you with your homework, whether it's Python homework help or another topic. Don't wait too long to take advantage of expert help when you can do it now. 

Is homework important for my learning journey?

Now that we've answered questions on who made school and homework and why it was invented, we can ask ourselves if homework is crucial in our learning journey. 

At the end of the day, homework can be a crucial step to becoming more knowledgeable and disciplined over time. 

Exercising our memory skills, learning independently without a teacher obliging us, and processing new information are all beneficial to our growth and evolution. However, whether a homework task is enriching or simply a filler depends on the quality of education you're getting.