Every teenager can relate to this experience: carrying a two pound book bag home, settling in, pulling out your English, math and science homework and simply staring at the wall because you know it’s going to take you two or three hours to complete it all. You sharpen a pencil but gaze at the floor. You grab a calculator and wonder why you were assigned so much homework. Where did the idea of homework even come from?
Although there is no definitive proof, many credit Roberto Nevilis as the creator of homework. As a teacher in Venice, Italy back in 1095, Nevilis used homework as a form of punishment to his students.
Fast forward hundreds of years. Many questions about the effectiveness of homework started to rise. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, the state of California was on the forefront of the anti-homework movement. In 1901, the California legislature banned homework for students under the age of 15 and ordered high schools to limit the amount for older students. This law was later repealed in 1917.
What has affected the American ideology of homework from 1901 to present day?
According to NASA, Sputnik was the first ever artificial satellite sent into space in 1957 by the Soviet Union. How does this connect to homework for American students?
In 2007, The Harvard Gazette reported that the launch of Sputnik triggered reforms in science and engineering education in America so that the country could stay technologically competitive with Russia. Part of these reforms were more homework.
Now, the big question everyone has been asking for years: is homework hurting or benefiting students? There are currently studies that prove both theories. Some researchers argue that the heavy load of homework is getting in the way of kids ability to go outside and play. Children who aren’t active throughout the day are at a higher risk of obesity. On the other hand, others argue that homework is helpful for students as a way to reinforce what they learned in school or allow them to practice.
Students in other countries across the globe get little to no homework at all. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development showed that American 15-year-olds spend an average of six hours a week on homework in 2012.
Gavin Smith, a Psychology and Biology teacher at the John D. O’Bryant School of Math and Science offers his view on homework. “...If you ask the most successful people what got them to where they are, many of them will say it was the countless hours they put in when nobody else was watching. That's what homework is to me - it's the piece that can take you from a good student who can catch most of what a teacher says, to a great student who understands the essence of hard work,” said Smith.
Nallely Demera, a student at New Mission High School, takes five classes and receives homework from each. She says it takes “forever” for her to finish her homework and she doesn’t see how it helps her in class.
All this information and we still ask: what’s the point of homework? Is it Nevilis idea a form of punishment or does it have the same idea that it feared students were falling behind and wanted to make sure they got extra work. It could just be that school just want to have something students can do. What do you think? Is homework necessary?