The History of Homework

Is homework a punishment? It sure seems like it at times! When you consider the facts, you’ll understand why. If you’re interested in learning more about the origin of home assignments along with other interesting facts, keep reading!

When and Why Was Homework Invented

You may wonder who was the first person to give homework. It turns out those are two different people. If you live in the United States, you can thank Horace Mann for your school system. Of course, education goes back much further than that. In fact, school systems existed in Ancient Europe, The Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent, in Africa, the Far East, etc. Essentially, as long as there have been people living communally, education has happened.

Now, when it comes to who invented school homework, that credit goes to an Italian teacher Roberto Nevilis. He assigned work for his students to take home as a punishment. So, the answer to the question, ‘was homework invented as a punishment?’ is yes! Although the true story is probably a bit more complex. The idea of sending work home for students is something that teachers likely did out of necessity even before Roberto Nevilis. However, he may have been the first one to make it punitive.

Homework and Schools

Now that you know who invented homework and school let’s consider its pros and cons. Schools give information about homework for a variety of reasons. Some of these are more valid than others. Let’s start with the good reasons first!

  • It helps students further their mastery of topics.
  • Some schoolwork is about memorization. Home practice helps with this.
  • It keeps parents in tune with their child’s progress and struggles.
  • Kids benefit from spending a small amount of time at home, engaging in a task that is productive and requires self-discipline.
  • Home assignments help kids take ownership of their education.
  • When school tasks are tied to completion points, kids have the opportunity to boost their grades.
  • Students may be able to explore topics of interest to them through additional tasks at home.

After this list, it seems reasonable why do schools give homework, doesn’t it? Well, the negatives about homework tend to be reflected in the ways in which schools use homework, not that they assign it in the first place. Here are some of the most common issues:

  • When teachers fail to coordinate homework loads with one another, students can end up with more than they can handle.
  • Not all students have equal access to the internet, school supplies at home, parental support, or time.
  • Excessive studying causes stress, even physical symptoms.
  • When a student doesn’t understand the work at school, having them an attempt at home can simply lead to frustration and feelings of failure.
  • Too many assignments can interfere with family time and activities.
  • Kids benefit more from playtime, exercise, and other activities than doing schoolwork.
  • Assigning homework in the early grades has no benefit and can be detrimental.
  • High school students often suffer from anxiety and sleep deprivation because of excessive homework.
  • For students struggling to bond with the school environment, punitive or excess homework can give them one more reason to dislike school.

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Homework Statistics and Facts

While it’s interesting to learn about the origin of homework, it’s even more important that schools use homework as a way to benefit students. If homework frustrates students, highlights disparities in privilege, or causes other issues, it doesn’t matter who started homework originally. The only important thing is to implement policies that make homework fair. Here are some best practices:

  • Provide students with devices and hotspots if a home task requires connectivity.
  • Work with low income families to ensure there are supplies for home.
  • Consider keeping school libraries open later and providing homework support for students.
  • Avoid assigning additional tasks in the early grades.
  • Give no more than 10 minutes of homework for each grade level.
  • Students in high school should have no more than one hour of homework unless they are participating in AP or other challenging programs.
  • Teach older kids time management by giving them long term assignments that they manage themselves.
  • Answer the question, “why is homework important?”. Students will be more motivated if they understand the reasoning behind an assignment.

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Student Best Practices for Homework

You can find all the statistics against the homework that you want. The truth is that most students will have to deal with homework. Here are some tips you can use to make it more manageable.

  • Use a bulletin board or calendar to store information about homework. This is especially helpful for long term assignments.
  • Bookmark acceptable research sources on your computer. Be careful of Wikipedia. It’s okay for basic info and locating other sources, but it isn’t original source material.
  • Try to create a workspace that works for you.
  • Prioritize studying each day even if you don’t have extra assignments.
  • Be proactive and talk to your instructors if you are having difficulty with home tasks.

Finally, know when it’s time to get help. Even better, know where to get the help you need. We can assist you in finding an online homework assistance provider.

Posted by Diana B., November 23, 2020

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