6 junio, 2024

Who invented homework and why? Possible authors and civilizations

We explain the origin of the task; historical figures and civilizations.

It is possible that the homework inventor be an Italian master named Roberto Nevelis, from Venice. However, it is particularly difficult to verify where or when this hypothesis arose and on what evidence it is based.

In fact, it is not even known if the aforementioned educator existed in 1095 or 1905. Nor does there seem to be any record in the academic literature, which suggests that this theory is more a myth spread on the Internet than a truth.

But then, who actually invented homework, when and where? Below we explain the historical data that is known.

The task is older than many believe

The idea that homework arose in 1905 can be discounted out of hand because as early as the 1850s, homework existed on many campuses in the United States. In fact, by then some families already viewed chores with a bad face, because it interfered with housework.

Tasks may have existed for more than 2,000 years

If it wasn’t Roberto Nevelis of Venice who invented the task, then who was? The reality is that nobody knows for sure, but they do have some ideas about when and where the first tasks arose.

Several decades ago, ancient Egyptian tablets were discovered that show that Egyptian children had to do chores. These are wooden boards covered in the center with a layer of hardened wax where the teacher and students could write by carving with a punch.

Some of the discovered tables showed calligraphy exercises and others showed the multiplication tables. According to the researchers, these were created by the teacher for the student to practice at home.

Studies date these tasks to the 2nd century AD, which means that it is more than 1,900 years old.

Pliny the Younger and the ancient Romans

In addition to the Egyptian tablets, there are clear records that the Roman senator Pliny the Younger sent his students to practice oratory in their homes. This occurred during the first century AD, so it predates the Egyptian tablets.

Despite this, Pliny’s tasks are not the oldest.

The Tasks of Mesopotamia, Ancient Babylon, and Israel

A whole collection of “school boards” have been discovered in the Near East region since the early 20th century. The tables tell the story of a boy who was scolded by his teachers for not learning his lesson.

This shows that the teacher had assigned his students as homework to learn the lesson at home to recite it in class.

These tablets date from at least 1,600 BC, so they are at least 3,600 years old and represent the oldest tasks known to date. Therefore, we can conclude that the task was invented by the ancient Babylonians over 3500 years ago.

It is not by chance, since it is one of the places where writing was also invented, more than 5,000 years ago.


Who Invented Homework? The History of a School Staple. Taken from study.com.
Villain or Savior? The American Discourse on Homework, 1850–2003. Taken from tandfonline.com.

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