Who Invented Homework? – It’s History


“For a real girl, who the hell invented homework?” a girl shouted just after the teacher stepped out of the class. I vividly remember how everyone laughed at her sudden outburst. We laughed not because of her funny accent, her loud grunt afterward, or her funny facial expressions but because we all at that very moment had thought the same thing, ‘Who invented homework?’


The truth is a man invented homework, sorry ladies, but the man did it… If you already checked ‘Wikipedia,’ you would really think I am talking about the man called Horace Mann who invented school Yes, this man sure brought the concept of homework in schools, making it essential in schools. But do not confuse that with actually inventing homework… 

Are you confused? Well I will start from scratch.

What is an invention? I mean, what does it actually mean to invent something?… To invent is to create, design, or makeup something that has not been in existence before. The key in that definition is the phrase, ‘not been in existence. Homework had been in existence way before Horace Mann was born. This might make you a bit uncomfortable because you might ask yourself, “What does she know? When was she born?”

The truth is, it was there way before the dinosaurs, way back to the very first man. Calm down though, I never said the first man was Adam, nor did I say he was black or white. Who knows, he might have been grey.  I also do not know if he was created from dust or if he evolved from an animal. Who knows, an exotic flower could have birthed him. However, we are sure that a man came and started the procreation that brought about millions of beautiful people everywhere. Homework came into existence as soon as the man came into existence.

For you to understand what I truly mean, I will have to break down the word ‘Homework.’ What is the true meaning of homework? Checking dictionaries right now might make you think it is mostly only for students. Well, allow me to change your mind. The word ‘homework’ is actually a ‘Compound word,’ that is, a word formed by joining two or more words. When defined properly, the two words in context, ‘home’ and ‘work,’ will convey you properly to the true meaning of the word ‘homework.’


For a layman, this is the effort directed to accomplish something or labor. Carefully look at this definition, you would see that work is simply making an effort towards achieving something, so the keyword there is ‘effort.’ Yes, I do not have to finish a particular task to be sure that I have worked or do a perfect job to say, “Yes, I have worked!” Are you shocked? Work starts from an effort, as my mum would always say to my dad, “It really be the little things that matter, dear.” 

Man has been making that effort since he was created, from the first step he took to the first words he spoke. The effort he put, the fact that he tried to move, the drive that made him push to walk, the fact that he mumbled strange things, and they became words. Right there is work. That simple effort he put in to achieve something is called ‘work,’ it is a simple as that!


But what is ‘home’…?  You are probably thinking a home is that structure that sits on the ground, having openings for entrance and ventilation and demarcating the rooms with walls, where you and your family walk into for the sole purpose of eating and sleeping.  Well, I would not say that you are right. Neither will I say that you are wrong. 

You also could probably say that definition is for a house, and the word ‘home’ is just an ideology having no tangible meaning or conclusion but rather moves with a kind of feeling, like a sense of belonging. I will also not say that you are right, nor will I say that you are wrong.  

What can I say, ‘different strokes for different folks? To some people, as long as they can eat and sleep there, it is home to them. To some, as long as they are comfortable there, it is home to them. While to some, as long as it is a stable structure that they can eat and sleep and be comfortable in it, it is home.

The first man probably had made a stable structure or just found somewhere comfortable to stay. It was all good to him as long as it protected him from rain and sunshine. That was probably good enough for him. 

Home Plus Work, Equals

Now you have understood the sole meaning of the words ‘Home’ and ‘Work,’ you can fully understand the term ‘Homework’ means. Homework is the effort made into achieving a goal in a place you can call home. What, you think makes no sense? Hold up, reread it, this time slowly. Homework is the effort made into achieving a goal in a place you can call home.

‘In a place, you call home, take note that you could also find a home in someone’s embrace. You definitely would not argue this with me if you understood the explanation I gave about what a home is. On his first appearance, a man had made several efforts in the place he had first seen as his home, a place where he got his comfort and protection. Whatever it might have been, the real thing is a human-made effort in there.

Did I lose you there? alright then, I will recap:

Home: a place you seem good enough keep you comfortable or protect you. 

Work: an effort put into achieving something. 


(compound word)   

Therefore, Homework: an effort put into achieving something in a place you seem good enough to make you comfortable or protect you. It is as simple as that! ‘Homework came into existence as a man came into existence. This statement was made by me earlier. A man came into the world, and it became his home, he also made efforts in this world, which is his home, and that right there, ladies and gents, is ‘HOMEWORK.’

This sure is fascinating right?

I hope I did well to prove that homework was actually not invented by ‘Horace Mann’ in the 19th century, despite what you might think. From the above lessons, you can therefore see that it was invented long before he was born. It was invented by our father’s fathers fathers’ fathers…. I could go on. It was invented by the first man to step foot in this world we see and know today.

You could personally think and maybe say that it is a natural process, and so we are not at all wrong to say it was invented by nature because man is nature and nature is a man. However, the famous ‘Horace Mann’ did well to bring a concept of homework that already existed naturally into what seems human-made. 

“The best way to learn is to do it yourself,” my math teacher would always say. I guess that was how Mr. Horace felt. He wanted students to learn, to try to catch the fish on their own. He probably just meant well for students. “Go and try it on your own. That way, you would learn better,” maybe that was what he said to those students. Oh well, who knows…

Despite the effort put in by Mr. Horace to help the students, most students swear to kill him again. How sad I used to be like them. I should educate you on the advantages of what Mr. Horace Mann did for students;

  • Self-dependency: ‘Do not catch the fish for me every time. Teach me how to catch it.’ He used this to tell them to stand on their own, learn the steps and do it, so we don’t have to always do it for you.
  • Spikes Curiosity: Homework does that. It makes you want to know how, why, and when. Curiosity is the drive to learn even more.
  • Better Understanding: Homework helps you realize if you actually understood the lesson or not. Suppose you did then, good job. If not, then you can do better.
  • Challenge: It is like a challenge to beat the unseen and uncover the covered. Homework gives you the breakthrough challenge.
  • Brain Tasking: It helps one task their brain and try to move even quicker.

The advantages exceed this few as what this Mr. Horace did is extremely beneficial to students, teachers, and schools in general, so we could give him the honor of calling him the man who invented ‘Homework.’ But in a real sense and logically speaking, the first man to step foot on this our world actually invented homework just by making an effort in this world which he saw as his home.

Also read Who Invented Homework and Why?

Who Invented Homework? – It’s History

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