Who invented homework and why? Everything you need to know about homework invention and history

Who invented homework and why? Everything you need to know about homework invention and history

If you've stayed up late finishing homework, you might be curious about its origins. The education staple has been around for a while, intending to improve student learning and performance. However, its genesis still needs to be determined, with many sources presenting conflicting details regarding its inception. So, when did students start receiving home assignments? And who invented homework?

Who invented homework
A father helps his son with his homework. Photo: MoMo Productions (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

Everybody has been through late-night study sessions battling endless assignments. Though not a student favourite, homework is alleged to improve academic performance. But how effective is it, and where did the practice come from?

Who invented homework and why?

Who created homework? An Italian teacher from Venice, known as Roberto Novelis, is reported to have allegedly invented homework in 1095 or 1905. He reportedly started homework as a means of punishing non-performing students.

However, the credibility of this claim is questionable because of various historical facts. In the first claim, Roberto Novelis reportedly invented homework in 1095, years before formal education entered Europe.

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According to the World History Encyclopedia, 1095 was the beginning of the First Crusade envisaged by Pope Urban II. Therefore, based on this historical fact, Roberto couldn't have invented homework when education was informal.

For example, organised national formal education started in the 19th century in regions like the United Kingdom.

The other claim of having invented it in 1905 is incorrect, as four years earlier, in 1901, California had passed an act banning homework for students younger than 15. Therefore, Robert couldn't have invented homework in 1905 if it had already existed in the USA in 1901.

Who created homework? History vs myth

Who invented homework
A happy mother helps her son complete homework. Photo: Morsa Images
Source: Getty Images

The claim pinning Roberto Novelis with inventing homework is false since there is no evidence of his existence. At best, the Italian teacher is an internet myth.

According to history, education existed in the earliest civilisations, like the Sumerians, who were the first to develop the school system. Schools, called edubba or tablet houses, were used to teach, and students wrote on dried clay tablets.

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However, there is no evidence of the Sumerians handing out homework, as most of their education system differed from today's.

The Holy Roman Empire created church schools in the Middle Ages to educate future clergy members, as the 1215 Fourth Council of the Lateran specified. The Protestant Reformation's Sunday schools later adopted the concept.

First, secular schools emerged during the Pietism movement in the late 17th century and were further encouraged by Enlightenment proponents.

Frederick William I

King Frederick William I of Prussia established mandatory education, the Volksschule, for children aged five to twelve in 1717. They were required to read, write, and memorise the Protestant catechism.

King Frederick the Great

King Frederick the Great established the first Prussian general school statute, drafted by theologian Johann Julius Hecker, in 1763. Students enrolled in Volksschule or people's schools were assigned mandatory homework for home study at home on their own time. This requirement emphasised the state's control over the individual.

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Other names associated with the invention of homework include Pluby the Younger and Johann Gottlieb Fichte.

Horace Mann

Who invented homework
A boy works on schoolwork at home. Photo: Sally Anscombe
Source: Getty Images

Horace Mann was a politician, professor of education, and educational reformer. He was fascinated by Germany's compulsory schooling system. Mann travelled to Germany in 1843 to explore the educational process.

After returning to the United States, he used his experiences to advocate for the joint school movement in Massachusetts. Therefore, in adopting the German system, Horace brought homework to the United States.


  1. Who created homework? The name associated with making the education staple is Robert Novelis. However, the credibility of the information surrounding Robert Novelis' alleged invention is sketchy.
  2. What is the concept of homework? It is a set of assignments assigned to students by their teachers for completion outside of the classroom setting.
  3. How did the person who invented homework die? Per the myth surrounding the alleged inventor, he reportedly died in an accident or was murdered.
  4. Was homework invented as a punishment? The myth of Robert Novelis claims it was punishment for non-performing students. However, its German origins show it was a form of governance.
  5. Is homework becoming illegal? No, it isn't. The practice is legal in the USA, with schools in different states allowed to set rules.
  6. Why did homework get banned? It was forbidden in California in 1901 to students under 15 over concerns that it endangered children's mental and physical health.
  7. How long did the California homework ban last? It began in 1901 and lasted until 1917.

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Who invented homework? There is no established name associated with the development of the educational practice. However, Roberto Novelis is repeatedly mentioned online as the inventor. But despite his alleged involvement, no verification of his existence exists in respected historical texts.

Yen.com.gh published an exciting piece about when running was invented. Though it might seem funny to think that somebody invented running, you will be surprised by the genuine queries surrounding it.

Humans and most animals are born with the ability to run. In addition, humans have honed their capacity and turned it into a sport. But have you ever wondered if there was a time when animals and people did not run?

Source: YEN.com.gh

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