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PODCAST: HISTORY UNPLUGGED J. Edgar Hoover’s 50-Year Career of Blackmail, Entrapment, and Taking Down Communist Spies

The Encyclopedia: One Book’s Quest to Hold the Sum of All Knowledge PODCAST: HISTORY UNPLUGGED

history homework zone

Free History Worksheets

History Worksheet Mega-Pack!

Here you will find hundreds of free history worksheets designed by professional educators that can be adjusted for elementary, middle, or high school students.

These are nearly 500 student history worksheets in this package that cover all aspects of history, from Ancient Greece to World War One, World War Two, and the Cold War. The worksheets can be modified to accommodate K-12. Please feel free to share these on Pinterest or any other places where teachers’ resources are made available.  Included are full-color and black-and-white worksheets, word searches, quizzes, overviews, info graphs, diagrams, anagrams and activity sheets that provide everything you need to teach your class on any time period in history imaginable. Below are listed our currently available free student worksheets. More are to come.

  • How Much Can One Individual Alter History? More and Less...
  • Why Did Hitler Hate Jews? We Have Some Answers
  • Reasons Against Dropping the Atomic Bomb
  • Is Russia Communist Today? Find Out Here!
  • Phonetic Alphabet: How Soldiers Communicated
  • How Many Americans Died in WW2? Here Is A Breakdown

history homework zone

Online GCSE History knowledge tests + instant gap analysis

Historyhomework.com provides Edexcel and AQA GCSE history knowledge tests. Covering many units from the specification the tests cover all of the four GCSE Assessment Objectives.

History Homework test gap analysis

How HistoryHomework.com works...

1. choose a test.

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2. Choose the students

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3. Students take the test

Each historyhomework.com test includes a variety of question types including ‘fill the gap’ and ‘match the definition’ as well as tick and multi-choice questions. The questions are designed to assess your students’ substantive and disciplinary knowledge. Questions also check your class’s ability to understand key terms, decode examination questions and assess their chronological understanding.

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4. Class gap analysis

Class gap analysis

5. Individual analysis

Individual Analysis

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History is a branch of knowledge that records and explains past events. It encompasses a range of topics, from the rise and fall of empires to cultural and societal changes. It helps us understand patterns of the past to make sense of our present.

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history homework zone

Inventions since the 1930s | Timeline from the end of the war | Old Money

Life in 1948 | 1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s

World History

A closer look at History

Houses and Homes through History

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primary homework help, elementary homework, help work children, woodlands junior homework help, homework help elementary school, easy to read resources to help you in completing your homework

History Resource Cupboard – lessons and resources for schools

  • History Homework

HistoryHomework.com has been developed to help you assess each of your students’ progress in their GCSE course. It has been designed to cut down your workload and give you insightful knowledge on how each individual you teach is progressing.

You simply select any aspect of the GCSE unit that you teach and set an engaging online quiz for your students to complete either for homework or in class.

This short blog describes how HistoryHomework.com works, reduces your workload and boosts attainment. Read the blog here .

Click here to see the units that are covered.

To find out more about the quizzes, read this blog .

To see 5 top tips for using the tests read this blog .

This short video shows some of the different question-types your students’ will face.

The tests are instantly marked and you receive vital gap analysis data showing you how well their knowledge is growing under the following areas:

  • Key terminology
  • Chronological understanding
  • Substantive knowledge
  • Second Order Conceptual thinking
  • Use of contemporary sources
  • Ability to evaluate historical interpretations

The data can be viewed in a number of ways making it easy for you to decide how best to plan the rest of your course.

This short film shows you the reports you get as a teacher:

How to access www.HistoryHomework.com

You can sign up for www.historyhomework.com here, or you can become a premium member of History Resource Cupboard.

What people have been saying about HistoryHomework.com

‘HistoryHomework.com is an incredibly powerful tool. Not only does it save you time, but it will provide analysis that will inform planning. A real game-changer!  Students love it, the staff love it. High levels of engagement, varied topics, very easy for students to use.’

“I’ve been using HistoryHomework.com for the last two years and can honestly say it has transformed our homework at GCSE. The set up for 140 students took no longer than 2 minutes and was ready to go immediately. You have access to a variety of quizzes that are all tailored to the GCSE spec and even tests them on question stems.’

‘ Absolutely fantastic. A lifesaver in terms of time and keeping track of homework. We wouldn’t set homework any other way. ‘ Jordan Hobbis, Studley High School, Warwickshire

‘The homework tasks are going really well. Really positive feedback from the students.  My staff really like them as well. Interleaving was an area of improvement for us so historyhomework.com fits the bill perfectly. Keep up the good work.’  James Rumsey, Isleworth & Syon School, Middlesex

‘I really think historyhomework.com, aside from solving the ‘what am I going to set for homework’ dilemma and the ‘I’ve got so much marking’ problem, is fostering new lines of communication with the students. I’ve had more emails regarding getting their homework done properly than ever before and they are engaging with it. Thank you for this wonderful tool!’ Nathalie Harty  Burgate School, Fordingbridge

‘We have been so impressed by your www.HistoryHomework.com that we have now invested for our Year 11 students and will be investing for our Year 10 students too.’ Mr C. Trengove  Head of History, Sidmouth College

www.historyhomework.com is a great resource for history teachers and their pupils. Challenged with a knowledge-rich curriculum, it is invaluable to have an online tool that helps consolidate substantive knowledge. But this is not a simple online quiz tool – it’s assessment for learning at it’s best. Pupils are encouraged to think through their responses to matching tasks, chronological timelines or question stems and learn through the process. The ability to get instant feedback helps identify emerging areas of strength and directs pupils to revisit, rethink and recognize the right answers.

Teachers using this with a whole class can quickly identify what needs more attention in a recap or follow up lesson. The authors have thought carefully about the order and scope of each unit including how factual recall will build a clearer understanding of the past and how this can be drawn upon to challenge interpretations, build causal reasoning or start to interrogate an original document. Like all good history, it blends knowledge with historical understanding. Whilst it serves the wider purpose of helping teachers teach good history, it, of course, serves as a valuable revision tool which not only refreshes pupils’ recall but gets them to think about how GCSE examinations are structured and the kinds of questions they will encounter. Professor Simon James Thompson,  Head of Education, University of Sussex

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The Surprising History of Homework Reform

Really, kids, there was a time when lots of grownups thought homework was bad for you.

Boy sitting at desk with book

Homework causes a lot of fights. Between parents and kids, sure. But also, as education scholar Brian Gill and historian Steven Schlossman write, among U.S. educators. For more than a century, they’ve been debating how, and whether, kids should do schoolwork at home .

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At the dawn of the twentieth century, homework meant memorizing lists of facts which could then be recited to the teacher the next day. The rising progressive education movement despised that approach. These educators advocated classrooms free from recitation. Instead, they wanted students to learn by doing. To most, homework had no place in this sort of system.

Through the middle of the century, Gill and Schlossman write, this seemed like common sense to most progressives. And they got their way in many schools—at least at the elementary level. Many districts abolished homework for K–6 classes, and almost all of them eliminated it for students below fourth grade.

By the 1950s, many educators roundly condemned drills, like practicing spelling words and arithmetic problems. In 1963, Helen Heffernan, chief of California’s Bureau of Elementary Education, definitively stated that “No teacher aware of recent theories could advocate such meaningless homework assignments as pages of repetitive computation in arithmetic. Such an assignment not only kills time but kills the child’s creative urge to intellectual activity.”

But, the authors note, not all reformers wanted to eliminate homework entirely. Some educators reconfigured the concept, suggesting supplemental reading or having students do projects based in their own interests. One teacher proposed “homework” consisting of after-school “field trips to the woods, factories, museums, libraries, art galleries.” In 1937, Carleton Washburne, an influential educator who was the superintendent of the Winnetka, Illinois, schools, proposed a homework regimen of “cooking and sewing…meal planning…budgeting, home repairs, interior decorating, and family relationships.”

Another reformer explained that “at first homework had as its purpose one thing—to prepare the next day’s lessons. Its purpose now is to prepare the children for fuller living through a new type of creative and recreational homework.”

That idea didn’t necessarily appeal to all educators. But moderation in the use of traditional homework became the norm.

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“Virtually all commentators on homework in the postwar years would have agreed with the sentiment expressed in the NEA Journal in 1952 that ‘it would be absurd to demand homework in the first grade or to denounce it as useless in the eighth grade and in high school,’” Gill and Schlossman write.

That remained more or less true until 1983, when publication of the landmark government report A Nation at Risk helped jump-start a conservative “back to basics” agenda, including an emphasis on drill-style homework. In the decades since, continuing “reforms” like high-stakes testing, the No Child Left Behind Act, and the Common Core standards have kept pressure on schools. Which is why twenty-first-century first graders get spelling words and pages of arithmetic.

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History Homework Helper

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Frequently Asked Questions About History Homework Help Services

How does our writing services work?

To learn about how our service works, please visit the “How It Works” page where you can read a detailed explanation of our features, along with a guide of steps to get your paper completed and a video tutorial.

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There are two types of order forms: a short one and a more extended one. The first one is located on the main page of our website. Once you fill out a short order form in the right corner of our website’s main page, click the “Continue” button to move on to a more extended form. At this stage, if you do not have an account with us, it will automatically be created by our system, and a password will be sent to your e-mail immediately. Please note that later, once you place your order and enter your personal account, you will be able to reset this password to any other combination of signs and numbers. Next, you are redirected to a more extended order form, where you can select a deadline, upload any additional materials for the writer, and specify other important requirements for your paper. To learn more about how to place an order with us, you can visit our “How It Works” page on the website and watch a video tutorial.

How do I share my paper instructions?

You are able to upload any additional materials for the writer, be it a draft, an outline, or some reading material, at the stage of filling out your order form.

When will my paper be done?

When you initially fill out the order form, you select the deadline by which you need the paper completed. Unless you later negotiate this information with the writer in chat, you paper will be completed by this initial deadline. However, please note that if your deadline has changed to a shorter one, we strongly encourage you to inform your writer in advance, since he or she might have a tight schedule and a heavy work load.

How will I receive my paper?

Once the writer is paid for the whole order, you have a chance to download your final paper in one of two formats: either as an MS Word document, or as a .pdf file. The corresponding buttons will automatically appear on your personal order webpage, so you will have to click on one of the buttons and save the file on your computer.

How can I modify my initial order requirement?

Once you have published your order and the writers have started applying for it, you can still change your order details, such as the number of pages, the title, or the instructions for your paper. In order to do so, you can click on the “Edit order details” button on your order page. However, please note that in case the deadline, the number of pages, or the title of the order has been modified, all writers’ bids will automatically be considered outdated. At a later stage, when the writer was already assigned to work on your order, you cannot modify your initial order instructions. Your writer will complete the order in accordance with initial instructions.

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If you do not like what the writer has written, we recommend you to communicate your comments to the writer with no hesitation, while the order is still in progress, so that the writer does not have to start anew later on. You can instantly let the writer know whether he or she is doing something wrong or guide him or her in a different direction via chat communication. However, once the order is fully completed and the writer has been paid the whole amount of the bid, you will not be able to have the paper revised within this order any longer, since the order is automatically set on “Finished” status. What you can do in such a case is place an order for editing or rewriting.

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History Homework Help Features

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Students have to work on assignments, whether they are motivated or not. Yet writing academic papers is one of the most challenging tasks students face. Many hiccups make completing papers an uphill task, including a lack of enough time, insufficient skills, and linguistic problems. The academic writing process is very detailed and stepwise and requires concentration and planning.

If you have no idea how to write, or if there are circumstances limiting your ability to work on tasks, we recommend purchasing custom papers from History Homework Help professional writers. Of course, not everybody who poses as a writer should be trusted. Our company ensures that students don’t gamble with their important projects. We have hired skilled specialists to ensure that you get affordable, high-quality, and secure writing help. Find out how to easily obtain college admissions essay help more from History Homework Help.

Where can I find someone to do my research paper for me?

Knowing where to find the right writer traits to use when selecting the person who will write your paper is helpful.

Social networking sites are the best place to start your search. People are using the internet for many reasons. The good news is that a freelancer you find through LinkedIn or Facebook will likely charge a lower rate for research than someone working with an established company. However, many people who work with independent researchers complain about constant communication breakdowns and the absence of a supervisory structure.

History Homework Help recommends only hiring specialists who a reputable writing company like ours has thoroughly vetted to help you overcome your research challenges. This option allows you to send a request for a paper that is outstanding.

The best services invest their time and resources in vetting writers and improving processes to ensure top-notch quality. This eliminates the need to screen multiple candidates, as your expert has already been thoroughly vetted.

 History Homework Help Topics We can Help You With

History offers a wide range of fascinating topics to explore for your homework assignments. The choice of topic may depend on your academic level and the specific guidelines given by your teacher or professor. Here are some history homework topics across different time periods and regions to consider:

History Homework Help

  • The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire
  • Daily Life in Ancient Egypt
  • The Contributions of Ancient Greece to Modern Society
  • The Crusades: Causes and Consequences
  • Feudalism in Medieval Europe
  • The Black Death and Its Impact on Europe
  • The Age of Exploration: Columbus and Magellan
  • The Enlightenment and Its Influence on the American Revolution
  • The Tudor Dynasty and the Reign of Henry VIII
  • The Industrial Revolution and Its Effects on Society
  • World War I: Causes, Events, and Consequences
  • The Civil Rights Movement in the United States
  • The Cold War: Origins, Key Events, and Impacts
  • The Holocaust: Causes and Legacy
  • Decolonization and the End of Empires
  • The Arab Spring: Causes and Outcomes
  • Globalization and Its Effects on World Economies
  • Climate Change and Environmental History
  • The Life and Achievements of Leonardo da Vinci
  • Winston Churchill: Leadership during World War II
  • Nelson Mandela: Apartheid and the Fight for Equality
  • The French Revolution: Causes and Consequences
  • The Women’s Suffrage Movement
  • The Bolshevik Revolution and the Rise of the Soviet Union
  • The American Revolution: Key Events and Influential Figures
  • The Scramble for Africa: European Colonialism
  • Gandhi and the Indian Independence Movement
  • The Roaring Twenties: Social and Cultural Changes in the U.S.
  • The Harlem Renaissance: African American Arts and Culture
  • The History of Rock and Roll Music
  • The Battle of Gettysburg: Turning Point in the American Civil War
  • D-Day and the Normandy Invasion during World War II
  • The Vietnam War: Causes, Events, and Legacy
  • The Great Depression: Causes and Responses
  • The Dot-Com Bubble and Its Burst in the 2000s
  • The History of Money and Currency

Remember to choose a topic that interests you and aligns with your coursework. Additionally, consider the available resources for research when selecting your history homework topic. This will help ensure that you have access to the necessary information and can effectively complete your assignment.

How to Work On Your History Homework

Working on your history homework can be a rewarding experience if you follow a structured approach. Here are some steps to help you effectively complete your history assignments:

  • Read the Assignment Prompt : Carefully read through the assignment instructions provided by your teacher or professor. Understand the specific requirements, such as the topic, length, format, and deadline.
  • Choose a Suitable Workspace : Find a quiet and well-lit place where you can focus on your homework without distractions.
  • Gather Necessary Materials : Collect all the materials you’ll need, such as textbooks, notes, writing supplies, and any digital resources or websites your teacher recommends.
  • Understand the Topic : If the assignment is about a specific historical event, figure out what it entails. Look for keywords and concepts that you should focus on. If it’s a broad topic, consider narrowing it down to a specific aspect or time period.
  • Research : Start by conducting research to gather information on the topic. Use reputable sources like books, academic articles, and trustworthy websites. Take notes as you read to keep track of key points and sources.
  • Organize Your Notes : Organize your notes in a way that makes sense to you. You can use outlines, mind maps, or digital note-taking tools to structure your information.
  • Create an Outline : Based on your research, create an outline for your homework. This outline should include the introduction, main points or arguments, and a conclusion. Having a clear structure will make it easier to write your assignment.
  • Write the Assignment : Begin writing your history assignment, following the outline you created. Make sure to include proper citations for any sources you use, following the citation style required by your teacher or institution (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago).
  • Proofread and Edit : After completing the initial draft, take the time to proofread and edit your work. Check for spelling and grammatical errors, and ensure that your writing flows logically and coherently.
  • Cite Your Sources : Properly cite all the sources you used in your assignment. This is essential to avoid plagiarism and give credit to the original authors.
  • Format Your Assignment : Ensure that your homework is formatted according to the guidelines provided by your teacher or institution. This includes font size, margins, spacing, and any other specific formatting requirements.
  • Review and Revise : Review your entire assignment one more time before submitting it. Look for any errors or areas that need improvement.
  • Submit Your Assignment : Follow your teacher’s instructions for submitting your history homework. This may involve handing in a physical copy or uploading it to an online platform.
  • Ask for Help if Needed : If you encounter difficulties or have questions about the assignment, don’t hesitate to reach out to your teacher or classmates for clarification or assistance.
  • Time Management : If your history homework is part of a larger project or multiple assignments, manage your time effectively to avoid last-minute rush. Break down the work into smaller tasks and set deadlines for each.

Remember that history homework often requires critical thinking, analysis, and interpretation of historical events. Don’t hesitate to engage with the material and develop your own perspective on the topic as you work on your assignment.

History Homework Help Library

Building a library of resources for your history homework is a great way to ensure that you have access to reliable and relevant materials when working on assignments. Here’s how you can create your own history homework library:

  • Visit your school or local library to find history books related to your coursework.
  • Look for comprehensive textbooks covering specific historical periods or regions.
  • Consider historical biographies, primary source collections, and academic works.
  • Explore online libraries and databases such as JSTOR, Google Scholar, and your school’s online library portal.
  • Many universities provide access to digital archives and historical databases.
  • Use academic search engines to find scholarly articles and research papers.
  • Utilize reputable websites and online archives that focus on history, such as the Library of Congress, the National Archives, and the British Library.
  • Some universities also offer curated lists of recommended history websites.
  • Visit local museums and historical sites to access exhibits and artifacts related to your homework topic.
  • Many museums also offer online resources and virtual exhibits.
  • Look for documentaries and educational videos on platforms like YouTube, PBS, and streaming services.
  • Many universities and educational institutions provide access to educational video collections.
  • Participate in history-related forums and discussion groups where you can ask questions, share ideas, and get recommendations from fellow history enthusiasts.
  • Subscribe to or access historical magazines and publications that cover various historical topics.
  • These sources often contain articles and essays on recent historical research.
  • Use note-taking tools like Evernote or OneNote to organize and annotate your research materials.
  • These apps can help you keep track of sources, quotations, and your own notes.
  • Familiarize yourself with citation styles such as APA, MLA, or Chicago, depending on your school’s requirements.
  • Keep a guide handy for proper source citation in your homework assignments.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask your school or local librarian for assistance in finding specific history resources.
  • Librarians can help you navigate library databases and locate relevant materials.
  • Consider enrolling in online history courses or watching recorded lectures from universities.
  • These can provide in-depth knowledge and different perspectives on historical topics.
  • Access historical maps and atlases to better understand geographical aspects of historical events.
  • These can be especially useful for assignments involving geography and history.
  • Seek out primary sources such as diaries, letters, speeches, and historical documents relevant to your topic.
  • Online archives often provide access to digitized primary sources.
  • Follow historians, history enthusiasts, and history-related blogs on social media platforms for interesting insights and resource recommendations.

Remember to critically evaluate the credibility and reliability of your sources, especially when using online materials. Ensure that your sources are academically sound and appropriate for your assignment. With a well-organized history homework library, you’ll have the resources needed to excel in your history coursework.

Why Do Students Need Help with History Homework?

Students often seek help with history homework for several reasons, even when they are generally capable of handling their assignments. Here are some common reasons why students may require assistance with history homework:

  • Complexity of Historical Topics : History is a diverse subject that covers a wide range of time periods, regions, and events. Some historical topics can be complex, involving intricate details, multiple perspectives, and interrelated factors that can be challenging to grasp.
  • Time Constraints : Students have busy schedules with various classes and extracurricular activities. Balancing academic commitments with other responsibilities can leave limited time for in-depth research and writing, especially for complex history assignments.
  • Lack of Access to Resources : Access to credible historical sources, books, databases, and archives can be limited, particularly for students who don’t have access to well-equipped libraries or online resources.
  • Difficulty with Research : Effective historical research requires the ability to locate and analyze primary and secondary sources, which can be challenging for students who are not familiar with research methods or lack experience in historical research.
  • Understanding Historical Context : Historical events often need to be understood within their cultural, social, political, and economic contexts. This can be difficult for students to navigate without guidance.
  • Citation and Academic Writing : Properly citing historical sources and academic writing skills are essential for history assignments. Some students may struggle with citing sources in various citation styles (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago) or structuring their essays effectively.
  • Different Learning Styles : Students have varying learning styles and may benefit from different teaching approaches. Some may find it easier to understand historical concepts through one-on-one explanations or visual aids.
  • Clarity of Assignment Instructions : Students may seek help when they find the assignment instructions unclear or when they need clarification on what is expected from them.
  • Seeking Additional Perspective : Sometimes, students want to validate their own understanding or interpretations of historical events by seeking input from teachers, tutors, or peers.
  • Test Preparation : History homework may be assigned as preparation for exams and tests. Students might seek assistance to ensure they have a strong understanding of the material.
  • Language Barriers : For students whose first language is not the language of instruction, interpreting historical texts and conveying their understanding in written form can be challenging.
  • Incorporating Critical Analysis : History often involves critical analysis of historical events and their significance. Students may need guidance on how to approach critical thinking in the context of history.
  • Overcoming Writer’s Block : Some students experience writer’s block, which can hinder their ability to articulate their thoughts and ideas effectively.

In these situations, seeking help with history homework from teachers, tutors, online resources, or peers can provide valuable support and assistance. It’s important for students to actively seek help when needed to ensure they have a strong foundation in historical knowledge and research skills.

How do Our Experts Help You to Choose Your History Homework Writing Services?

History Homework Help can provides guidance on how to choose history homework writing services and the factors you should consider when seeking assistance:

  • Look for online reviews and testimonials about the history homework writing service. Check independent review websites and forums for feedback from past clients.
  • Ensure that the service employs qualified history experts or writers who have a background in the subject and can provide accurate and well-researched content.
  • Verify that the service guarantees plagiarism-free work. Plagiarism in academic assignments can lead to serious consequences.
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The Homework Dilemma: Who Invented Homework?

The inventor of homework may be unknown, but its evolution reflects contributions from educators, philosophers, and students. Homework reinforces learning, fosters discipline, and prepares students for the future, spanning from ancient civilizations to modern education. Ongoing debates probe its balance, efficacy, equity, and accessibility, prompting innovative alternatives like project-based and personalized learning. As education evolves, the enigma of homework endures.

Table of Contents

Who Invented Homework?

While historical records don’t provide a definitive answer regarding the inventor of homework in the modern sense, two prominent figures, Roberto Nevelis of Venice and Horace Mann, are often linked to the concept’s early development.

Roberto Nevelis of Venice: A Mythical Innovator?

Roberto Nevelis, a Venetian educator from the 16th century, is frequently credited with the invention of homework. The story goes that Nevelis assigned tasks to his students outside regular classroom hours to reinforce their learning—a practice that aligns with the essence of homework. However, the historical evidence supporting Nevelis as the inventor of homework is rather elusive, leaving room for skepticism.

While Nevelis’s role remains somewhat mythical, his association with homework highlights the early recognition of the concept’s educational value.

Horace Mann: Shaping the American Educational Landscape

Horace Mann, often regarded as the “Father of American Education,” made significant contributions to the American public school system in the 19th century. Though he may not have single-handedly invented homework, his educational reforms played a crucial role in its widespread adoption.

Mann’s vision for education emphasized discipline and rigor, which included assigning tasks to be completed outside of the classroom. While he did not create homework in the traditional sense, his influence on the American education system paved the way for its integration.

The invention of homework was driven by several educational objectives. It aimed to reinforce classroom learning, ensuring knowledge retention and skill development. Homework also served as a means to promote self-discipline and responsibility among students, fostering valuable study habits and time management skills.

Why Was Homework Invented?

The invention of homework was not a random educational practice but rather a deliberate strategy with several essential objectives in mind.

Reinforcing Classroom Learning

Foremost among these objectives was the need to reinforce classroom learning. When students leave the classroom, the goal is for them to retain and apply the knowledge they have acquired during their lessons. Homework emerged as a powerful tool for achieving this goal. It provided students with a structured platform to revisit the day’s lessons, practice what they had learned, and solidify their understanding.

Homework assignments often mirrored classroom activities, allowing students to extend their learning beyond the confines of school hours. Through the repetition of exercises and tasks related to the curriculum, students could deepen their comprehension and mastery of various subjects.

Fostering Self-Discipline and Responsibility

Another significant objective behind the creation of homework was the promotion of self-discipline and responsibility among students. Education has always been about more than just the acquisition of knowledge; it also involves the development of life skills and habits that prepare individuals for future challenges.

By assigning tasks to be completed independently at home, educators aimed to instill valuable study habits and time management skills. Students were expected to take ownership of their learning, manage their time effectively, and meet deadlines—a set of skills that have enduring relevance in contemporary education and beyond.

Homework encouraged students to become proactive in their educational journey. It taught them the importance of accountability and the satisfaction of completing tasks on their own. These life skills would prove invaluable in their future endeavors, both academically and in the broader context of their lives.

When Was Homework Invented?

The roots of homework stretch deep into the annals of history, tracing its origins to ancient civilizations and early educational practices. While it has undergone significant evolution over the centuries, the concept of extending learning beyond the classroom has always been an integral part of education.

Earliest Origins of Homework and Early Educational Practices

The idea of homework, in its most rudimentary form, can be traced back to the earliest human civilizations. In ancient Egypt , for instance, students were tasked with hieroglyphic writing exercises. These exercises served as a precursor to modern homework, as they required students to practice and reinforce their understanding of written language—an essential skill for communication and record-keeping in that era.

In ancient Greece , luminaries like Plato and Aristotle advocated for the use of written exercises as a tool for intellectual development. They recognized the value of practice in enhancing one’s knowledge and skills, laying the foundation for a more systematic approach to homework.

The ancient Romans also played a pivotal role in the early development of homework. Young Roman students were expected to complete assignments at home, with a particular focus on subjects like mathematics and literature. These assignments were designed to consolidate their classroom learning, emphasizing the importance of practice in mastering various disciplines.

READ MORE: Who Invented Math? The History of Mathematics

The practice of assigning work to be done outside of regular school hours continued to evolve through various historical periods. As societies advanced, so did the complexity and diversity of homework tasks, reflecting the changing needs and priorities of education.

The Influence of Educational Philosophers

While the roots of homework extend to ancient times, the ideas of renowned educational philosophers in later centuries further contributed to its development. John Locke, an influential thinker of the Enlightenment era, believed in a gradual and cumulative approach to learning. He emphasized the importance of students revisiting topics through repetition and practice, a concept that aligns with the principles of homework.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, another prominent philosopher, stressed the significance of self-directed learning. Rousseau’s ideas encouraged the development of independent study habits and a personalized approach to education—a philosophy that resonates with modern concepts of homework.

Homework in the American Public School System

The American public school system has played a pivotal role in the widespread adoption and popularization of homework. To understand the significance of homework in modern education, it’s essential to delve into its history and evolution within the United States.

History and Evolution of Homework in the United States

The late 19th century marked a significant turning point for homework in the United States. During this period, influenced by educational reforms and the growing need for standardized curricula, homework assignments began to gain prominence in American schools.

Educational reformers and policymakers recognized the value of homework as a tool for reinforcing classroom learning. They believed that assigning tasks for students to complete outside of regular school hours would help ensure that knowledge was retained and skills were honed. This approach aligned with the broader trends in education at the time, which aimed to provide a more structured and systematic approach to learning.

As the American public school system continued to evolve, homework assignments became a common practice in classrooms across the nation. The standardization of curricula and the formalization of education contributed to the integration of homework into the learning process. This marked a significant departure from earlier educational practices, reflecting a shift toward more structured and comprehensive learning experiences.

The incorporation of homework into the American education system not only reinforced classroom learning but also fostered self-discipline and responsibility among students. It encouraged them to take ownership of their educational journey and develop valuable study habits and time management skills—a legacy that continues to influence modern pedagogy.

Controversies Around Homework

Despite its longstanding presence in education, homework has not been immune to controversy and debate. While many view it as a valuable educational tool, others question its effectiveness and impact on students’ well-being.

The Homework Debate

One of the central controversies revolves around the amount of homework assigned to students. Critics argue that excessive homework loads can lead to stress, sleep deprivation, and a lack of free time for students. The debate often centers on striking the right balance between homework and other aspects of a student’s life, including extracurricular activities, family time, and rest.

Homework’s Efficacy

Another contentious issue pertains to the efficacy of homework in enhancing learning outcomes. Some studies suggest that moderate amounts of homework can reinforce classroom learning and improve academic performance. However, others question whether all homework assignments contribute equally to learning or whether some may be more beneficial than others. The effectiveness of homework can vary depending on factors such as the student’s grade level, the subject matter, and the quality of the assignment.

Equity and Accessibility

Homework can also raise concerns related to equity and accessibility. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds may have limited access to resources and support at home, potentially putting them at a disadvantage when it comes to completing homework assignments. This disparity has prompted discussions about the role of homework in perpetuating educational inequalities and how schools can address these disparities.

Alternative Approaches to Learning

In response to the controversies surrounding homework, educators and researchers have explored alternative approaches to learning. These approaches aim to strike a balance between reinforcing classroom learning and promoting holistic student well-being. Some alternatives include:

Project-Based Learning

Project-based learning emphasizes hands-on, collaborative projects that allow students to apply their knowledge to real-world problems. This approach shifts the focus from traditional homework assignments to engaging, practical learning experiences.

Flipped Classrooms

Flipped classrooms reverse the traditional teaching model. Students learn new material at home through video lectures or readings and then use class time for interactive discussions and activities. This approach reduces the need for traditional homework while promoting active learning.

Personalized Learning

Personalized learning tailors instruction to individual students’ needs, allowing them to progress at their own pace. This approach minimizes the need for one-size-fits-all homework assignments and instead focuses on targeted learning experiences.

The Ongoing Conversation

The controversies surrounding homework highlight the need for an ongoing conversation about its role in education. Striking the right balance between reinforcing learning and addressing students’ well-being remains a complex challenge. As educators, parents, and researchers continue to explore innovative approaches to learning, the role of homework in the modern educational landscape continues to evolve. Ultimately, the goal is to provide students with the most effective and equitable learning experiences possible.

Unpacking the Homework Enigma

Homework, without a single inventor, has evolved through educators, philosophers, and students. It reinforces learning, fosters discipline and prepares students. From ancient times to modern education, it upholds timeless values. Yet, controversies arise—debates on balance, efficacy, equity, and accessibility persist. Innovative alternatives like project-based and personalized learning emerge. Homework’s role evolves with education.

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Making history homework worthwhile: purpose (Part one)

Will Bailey-Watson, a PGCE History Subject Lead, argues that there needs to be a clear purpose to history homework and provides a helpful summary for training and newly qualified history teachers.

Whatever the subject, there are two overarching rules for homework: it must have a clear purpose and it must be valued by you once students have completed it. Without either of these crucial features, students will increasingly question the worth of completing their homework to a high standard, making it less worthwhile and creating more follow-up work for you.

Becoming a great history teacher involves thinking carefully about the rationale behind decisions you make in the classroom. Here are just some of the reasons why you might set homework in a history classroom:

Consolidate and reinforce knowledge that has been studied in lessons

One of the most effective uses of homework can be to ensure that students are secure in the content they studied in class, so that they can draw on it in subsequent lessons more fluently, and engage with new knowledge more easily.

Prepare for an upcoming lesson

Sometimes a new topic is so vast or alien, or even so niche, that a useful homework is getting students to explicitly prepare for the upcoming lesson. This way, they arrive with questions, an inkling of what the topic is about, and are potentially in a more informed position to hit the ground running.

Broaden hinterland knowledge

There is so much history that it simply cannot be studied in the classroom on a scale that does it justice. Homework can be the opportunity to go beyond necessary topic content and allow students to develop their wider contextual knowledge. For example, when studying the impact of the Wall Street Crash on Germany in class, you could set students a homework on the impact of the Wall Street Crash in Britain. This may not be used in an assessment but will sharpen the students’ sense of typicality and allow them to unpick what was distinct to Germany in the early 1930s, and what was part of a wider trend.

Collaborate with family

At key stage 3 I always wanted students to feel like history was something that happened everywhere and affected everyone. In order to do this, I wanted to bring students’ families into conversations about history. Homework gives an opportunity for students to explore oral history by asking their family questions about the past.

Examples that could be asked of different generations include:

  • ‘Which famous events were you present at and what do you remember about them?’
  • ‘Who was the first politician you remember, and why?’
  • ‘When were you most worried during the Cold War?’
  • ‘What has been the biggest change to your home life since you were born?’
  • ‘What would you say is the biggest difference between my schooling and yours?’

These questions, which could be asked of any adult in a student’s life, make a clear connection between the history studied in class and the history that students bump into in their daily lives.

Produce outcomes not possible in the classroom

Students remember work that took time to produce in their own distinct way and of which they were really proud. This is a justification for giving them a chance to produce something big and creative, like a medieval castle, an Industrial Revolution town or a First World War trench. It is really important that you don’t confuse this with the students learning history per se, as they will be thinking about the construction process far more than the history itself. However, in a broad and memorable curriculum, there is room for students being given a few weeks to produce something in history that they will remember for years to come: just make sure it is something worth doing.

Read Will Bailey-Watson's guide to Making history homework worthwhile: value (part two) .

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Will Bailey-Watson is the PGCE History Subject Lead at the University of Reading.

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The History of Homework: Why Was it Invented and Who Was Behind It?

  • By Emily Summers
  • February 14, 2020

Homework is long-standing education staple, one that many students hate with a fiery passion. We can’t really blame them, especially if it’s a primary source of stress that can result in headaches, exhaustion, and lack of sleep.

It’s not uncommon for students, parents, and even some teachers to complain about bringing assignments home. Yet, for millions of children around the world, homework is still a huge part of their daily lives as students — even if it continues to be one of their biggest causes of stress and unrest.

It makes one wonder, who in their right mind would invent such a thing as homework?

Who Invented Homework?

Pliny the younger: when in ancient rome, horace mann: the father of modern homework, the history of homework in america, 1900s: anti-homework sentiment & homework bans, 1930: homework as child labor, early-to-mid 20th century: homework and the progressive era, the cold war: homework starts heating up, 1980s: homework in a nation at risk, early 21 st century, state of homework today: why is it being questioned, should students get homework pros of cons of bringing school work home.

Guy stressed with homework

Online, there are many articles that point to Roberto Nevilis as the first educator to give his students homework. He created it as a way to punish his lazy students and ensure that they fully learned their lessons. However, these pieces of information mostly come from obscure educational blogs or forum websites with questionable claims. No credible news source or website has ever mentioned the name Roberto Nevilis as the person who invented homework . In fact, it’s possible that Nevilis never even existed.

As we’re not entirely sure who to credit for creating the bane of students’ existence and the reasons why homework was invented, we can use a few historical trivia to help narrow down our search.

Mentions of the term “homework” date back to as early as ancient Rome. In I century AD, Pliny the Younger , an oratory teacher, supposedly invented homework by asking his followers to practice public speaking at home. It was to help them become more confident and fluent in their speeches. But some would argue that the assignment wasn’t exactly the type of written work that students have to do at home nowadays. Only introverted individuals with a fear of public speaking would find it difficult and stressful.

It’s also safe to argue that since homework is an integral part of education, it’s probable that it has existed since the dawn of learning, like a beacon of light to all those helpless and lost (or to cast darkness on those who despise it). This means that Romans, Enlightenment philosophers, and Middle Age monks all read, memorized, and sang pieces well before homework was given any definition. It’s harder to play the blame game this way unless you want to point your finger at Horace Mann.

In the 19 th century, Horace Mann , a politician and educational reformer had a strong interest in the compulsory public education system of Germany as a newly unified nation-state. Pupils attending the Volksschulen or “People’s Schools” were given mandatory assignments that they needed to complete at home during their own time. This requirement emphasized the state’s power over individuals at a time when nationalists such as Johann Gottlieb Fichte were rallying support for a unified German state. Basically, the state used homework as an element of power play.

Despite its political origins, the system of bringing school assignments home spread across Europe and eventually found their way to Horace Mann, who was in Prussia at that time. He brought the system home with him to America where homework became a daily activity in the lives of students.

Despite homework being a near-universal part of the American educational experience today, it hasn’t always been universally accepted. Take a look at its turbulent history in America.

In 1901, just a few decades after Horace Mann introduced the concept to Americans, homework was banned in the Pacific state of California . The ban affected students younger than 15 years old and stayed in effect until 1917.

Around the same time, prominent publications such as The New York Times and Ladies’ Home Journal published statements from medical professionals and parents who stated that homework was detrimental to children’s health.

In 1930, the American Child Health Association declared homework as a type of child labor . Since laws against child labor had been passed recently during that time, the proclamation painted homework as unacceptable educational practice, making everyone wonder why homework was invented in the first place.

However, it’s keen to note that one of the reasons why homework was so frowned upon was because children were needed to help out with household chores (a.k.a. a less intensive and more socially acceptable form of child labor).

During the progressive education reforms of the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries, educators started looking for ways to make homework assignments more personal and relevant to the interests of individual students. Maybe this was how immortal essay topics such as “What I Want to Be When I Grow Up” and “What I Did During My Summer Vacation” were born.

After World War II, the Cold War heated up rivalries between the U.S. and Russia. Sputnik 1’s launch in 1957 intensified the competition between Americans and Russians – including their youth.

Education authorities in the U.S. decided that implementing rigorous homework to American students of all ages was the best way to ensure that they were always one step ahead of their Russian counterparts, especially in the competitive fields of Math and Science.

In 1986, the U.S. Department of Education’s pamphlet, “What Works,” included homework as one of the effective strategies to boost the quality of education. This came three years after the National Commission on Excellence in Education published “ Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform .” The landmark report lambasted the state of America’s schools, calling for reforms to right the alarming direction that public education was headed.

Today, many educators, students, parents, and other concerned citizens have once again started questioning why homework was invented and if it’s still valuable.

Homework now is facing major backlash around the world. With more than 60% of high school and college students seeking counselling for conditions such as clinical depression and anxiety, all of which are brought about by school, it’s safe to say that American students are more stressed out than they should be.

After sitting through hours at school, they leave only to start on a mountain pile of homework. Not only does it take up a large chunk of time that they can otherwise spend on their hobbies and interests, it also stops them from getting enough sleep. This can lead to students experiencing physical health problems, a lack of balance in their lives, and alienation from their peers and society in general.

Is homework important and necessary ? Or is it doing more harm than good? Here some key advantages and disadvantages to consider.

  • It encourages the discipline of practice

Using the same formula or memorizing the same information over and over can be difficult and boring, but it reinforces the practice of discipline. To master a skill, repetition is often needed. By completing homework every night, specifically with difficult subjects, the concepts become easier to understand, helping students polish their skills and achieve their life goals.

  • It teaches students to manage their time

Homework goes beyond just completing tasks. It encourages children to develop their skills in time management as schedules need to be organized to ensure that all tasks can be completed within the day.

  • It provides more time for students to complete their learning process

The time allotted for each subject in school is often limited to 1 hour or less per day. That’s not enough time for students to grasp the material and core concepts of each subject. By creating specific homework assignments, it becomes possible for students to make up for the deficiencies in time.

  • It discourages creative endeavors

If a student spends 3-5 hours a day on homework, those are 3-5 hours that they can’t use to pursue creative passions. Students might like to read leisurely or take up new hobbies but homework takes away their time from painting, learning an instrument, or developing new skills.

  • Homework is typically geared toward benchmarks

Teachers often assign homework to improve students’ test scores. Although this can result in positive outcomes such as better study habits, the fact is that when students feel tired, they won’t likely absorb as much information. Their stress levels will go up and they’ll feel the curriculum burnout.

  • No evidence that homework creates improvements

Research shows that homework doesn’t improve academic performance ; it can even make it worse. Homework creates a negative attitude towards schooling and education, making students dread going to their classes. If they don’t like attending their lessons, they will be unmotivated to listen to the discussions.

With all of the struggles that students face each day due to homework, it’s puzzling to understand why it was even invented. However, whether you think it’s helpful or not, just because the concept has survived for centuries doesn’t mean that it has to stay within the educational system.

Not all students care about the history of homework, but they all do care about the future of their educational pursuits. Maybe one day, homework will be fully removed from the curriculum of schools all over the world but until that day comes, students will have to burn the midnight oil to pass their requirements on time and hopefully achieve their own versions of success.

About the Author

Emily summers.

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‘Zone of Interest’ Follows History of Holocaust Films at the Oscars

By Whitney Friedlander

Whitney Friedlander

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The Zone of Interest

The Academy’s tendency to award trophies to Holocaust movies has long been whispered about — and even occasionally joked about by cheeky comedians. 

In 2009, shortly after Kate Winslet won a Golden Globe for her performance as a former Auschwitz guard in “The Reader,” presenter Ricky Gervais pointed to her in the audience and deadpanned, “I told ya, do a Holocaust movie; the awards come.”

The night of the Globes, Winslet laughed at Gervais’ ribbing, as did many in the crowd. It was a much a jab at the industry as much as it was at her. 

“The spoof wasn’t entirely wrong,” says Annette Insdorf, a professor of film at Columbia University and the author of “Indelible Shadows: Film and the Holocaust.” “The Academy Award track record vis-a-vis the Holocaust, including documentary features and shorts, reveals a high number of nominees and winners.” 

And, as Insdorf adds, they “do tend to be ‘prestige’ films that commemorate and/or investigate the past.”

Jonathan Glazer’s “ The Zone of Interest ” has become the latest Holocaust movie nominated for Oscar gold. It is up for five trophies, including best picture and international feature, the only movie to cross over into both categories this year, increasing the odds it will snag the international statuette.  

Hollywood has been making movies about Nazis since World War II and the reception to Holocaust films has varied over the decades. Thirty years ago, director Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List” became the first film about the Holocaust to be awarded the best picture Oscar, winning six additional statuettes that evening. There’s also “The Pianist,” which gave director (and Holocaust survivor) Roman Polanski his first Oscar (for directing) and was nominated for best picture, and writer-director Charlie Chaplin’s parody film “The Great Dictator.” Chaplin’s movie received five nominations including one for the top prize (then called “outstanding production”) but came up empty at the ceremony.

Historical context is key to understanding some of these wins and losses. 

By the late 1950s and early ’60s, “enough time had passed after World War II for ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ and ‘Judgement at Nuremberg’ to be released and respectfully received,” she continues, mentioning films that were nominated for the top prize in 1960 and ’62 and won in other categories. 

Even then, Insdorf cautioned, “Hollywood executives were hesitant about making films that could upset audiences, so they chose adaptations that were already successful in other forms.”

Things have changed considerably since then. “If the first wave of Holocaust films from the 1950s to 1970s established basic facts of deportation and extermination, the second wave concentrated on resistance and rescue,” Insdorf says.

She adds that, while some projects, like director Frank Pierson’s 2001 televised movie “Conspiracy” about the Wannsee Conference, were “straightforward depictions,” others like “The Reader” “explored the moral failings of those on the wrong side of history.”

Have there really been so many films about the Holocaust that the subject is as much of a trope as Gervais implied at the Globes ceremony 15 years ago?

Lexi Leban has certainly seen a lot of films about the Holocaust as executive director of the Jewish Film Institute, which produces the annual San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. 

“So many filmmakers, including those who identify as Jewish and those who do not identify as Jewish, continue to generate related works,” she says. “And I can say the ones that we tend to gravitate toward, and program, are films that approach this subject in an original way, and in a thoughtful way, so as to engage and impact viewers in terms of self-reflective and thought-provoking work.”

Leban name-checks “Zone,” as well as 2016 foreign-language Oscar winner “Son of Saul” and director and star Jesse Eisenberg’s new Sundance darling “A Real Pain” as films “that break conventions.” “Zone” is about Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss and his family, who live an idyllic life just outside the walls of depravity. “Saul” is about a man seeking a traditional Jewish burial for a child. And “Pain” is about cousins who return to Poland after their grandmother’s death and join a Holocaust tour.

It’s noteworthy that this subject gets explored the way it does. Compare films about the Holocaust to, for example, ones about LGBTQ+ discrimination and civil rights. Hilary Swank got her first lead actress Oscar for “Boys Don’t Cry” and Tom Hanks got his first lead actor Oscar for “Philadelphia.” But neither film was nominated for best picture (“Philadelphia,” coincidentally, was released the same year as “Schindler’s List”). “Milk” won trophies for lead actor Sean Penn and Dustin Lance Black’s original screenplay. But the film, along with Winslet’s “The Reader,” lost the top race to “Slumdog Millionaire.”

The Oct. 7 Hamas attacks in Israel have increased the spotlight on antisemitism around the globe. But Insdorf doesn’t think this will necessarily make “Zone” a winner on Oscar night. However, she says, “I think, and hope, that good films about the Holocaust will continue to be made. 

“In addition to the hundreds that have already been produced, there are countless untold stories from that era, as well as the post-war legacy,” she says.

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What Moscow looked like in the 1920s (PHOTOS)

history homework zone

Through all the centuries of its existence, the Red Square, perhaps, hadn’t seen so many celebratory events. Holiday demonstrations were also held.

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And military parades.

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And mass marches of the trade unions of different fields and sport events.

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And the meetings of communist women from all over the world.

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The training of the Kremlin Regiment was sometimes also held there.

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In 1924, after the death of Vladimir Lenin, a new attribute of the Soviet authority appeared on the Red Square that became iconic. First it was the temporary wooden, then permanent marble, Lenin Mausoleum.

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However, rallies and meetings were not confined only to the Red Square; the propaganda work with the population was conducted throughout the city.

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A ‘propaganda truck’ patrolling on Myasnitskaya Street.

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A rally at Khodynka Field (symbolically, that’s where the coronation of Nicholas II was celebrated, when many people died in a crowd crush for free souvenirs).

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One of the most famous photos of the leader of the revolution – Vladimir Lenin speaks from the tribune in front of the soldiers of the Red Army.

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“Propaganda stations” were even created at train stations as centers of mass-political work. Below – the Kursky railway terminal.

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Peasants arriving in Moscow for work.

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For the people to digest political information in a more enjoyable way (and also for illiterate people), the Bolsheviks created propaganda brigades that acted out scenes (in the photo – the ‘Blue Blouse’ brigade acts in the ‘Red Army’ interlude).

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There were also mobile film brigades that filmed and showed movies, a new art the Bolsheviks were betting on.

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This is an ad for Sergei Eisenstein’s ‘Battleship Potemkin’ movie on the facade of the Khudozhestvenny cinema.

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The new country required new art, so the Vkhutemas (Higher Art and Technical Studios) school was opened.

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The Bolsheviks started actively shutting down churches and seizing church property. A lot of jewelry was sold to the West or re-melted for army needs. Below – soldiers take out valuables from the Simonov Monastery in the Moscow Kremlin, which would be later torn down.

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A view of Strastnaya Square (on the right – the Passion Monastery, torn down later).

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The old Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, torn down in the 1930s.

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The fashion of the 1920s. Young girls of the New Economic Policy era stroll along the Chistoprudny Boulevard in the middle of Moscow.

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The Sukharev Tower – a building that has vanished from the face of Moscow forever. It was torn down in 1934.

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A tram stop on Sukharev Square.

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You could still encounter a lot of horse-drawn carriages in the 1920s in Moscow. A lot of streets were narrow, but there were enough wide ones, as well, which hosted lively traffic of public and private transport. In the photo below, you can see the white Kitay-gorod wall, which would later be destroyed in the 1930s to widen the road and give more space for car traffic.

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The ‘Red Moscow’ exhibition’ was organized in the 1920s in the building of the noblemen’s English Club; later, the whole Museum of the Revolution of the USSR was housed there.

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The Bolsheviks were not just destroying, but building, as well. The Shukhov Broadcasting Tower is one of the symbols of the era, a true masterpiece. The photo below was taken by Alexander Rodchenko, the leading avant-garde photographer of the era. He found new unusual photo angles for new unusual buildings.

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And below is how grand the All-Russian Agricultural and Industrial Crafts Exhibition looked, which took place in 1923 on Vorobyovy Gory (Sparrow Hills). Later, a special place was allocated for it and the huge VDNKh (Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy) park was built.

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A mom and son inspect the stairwell of a new house on Usachev Street.

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In 1925, a new building was erected in Moscow in the then-trendy Constructivist style. Advertisements in the avant-garde style were featured on the facade of the Mosselprom building; the text reads “Yeast”, “Cigarettes”, “Beer & Cold Drinks”, “Cookies”, “Candy”, “Chocolate” and “Nowhere, but at Mosselprom!”

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Below is what a cigarette stand from Mosselprom looked like.

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In 1929, a planetarium building in the Constructivist style was built.

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Stalin being chauffeured in a car near the Bolshoi Theater in 1926.

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Below is a bird’s eye view of the Theater Square from the Bolshoi Theater.

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Swimming with a view of the Moscow Kremlin! Today, it’s hard to imagine someone taking a swim in the Moskva River in the center of the city.

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A traditional Russian fun activity – winter sledding at Sparrow Hills.

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And, finally, kids loved to be driven around by donkeys in Petrovsky park!

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  • The SECRET behind the Moscow Kremlin’s walls
  • What Moscow looked like at the end of the 19th century (PHOTOS)
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‘The Zone of Interest’ Ending Explained: Jonathan Glazer Reckons With Evil’s Legacy

'The Zone of Interest' makes us confront our relationships with history.

Editor's note: The following contains spoilers for 'The Zone of Interest'

The Big Picture

  • The Zone of Interest depicts the mundane lives of a family living near Auschwitz, highlighting the cognitive dissonance of those complicit in evil.
  • The film uses sound to contrast the everyday domesticity of the family with the horrors happening just outside their home.
  • The ending of the film forces the audience to confront the complicity of evil and leaves a haunting impression on the viewer.

With over twenty years in the industry, Jonathan Glazer has only directed four feature films. He is a filmmaker who is dedicated to a singular vision, not rushing his work, and ensuring that any movie he takes on is one worth watching. His most recent film, The Zone of Interest , was released this past year by A24 , garnering critical acclaim and five Academy Award nominations , including Best Picture, Best Director, and perhaps most vitally, Best Sound. It is a dark, uncomfortable movie that boldly approaches one of the most tragic, brutal periods of human history in a way that breaks cinematic form brilliantly. Because of the unconventional nature of the film, the perspective of The Zone of Interest may be difficult to grasp for some viewers, but its intentions and themes feel clarified, and incredibly resonant, in the final moments.

Zone of Interest Film Poster

The Zone of Interest

The commandant of Auschwitz, Rudolf Höss, and his wife Hedwig, strive to build a dream life for their family in a house and garden next to the camp.

What is 'The Zone of Interest' About?

The Zone of Interest follows a seemingly ordinary family living in Germany in the early-to-mid 20th century. A husband, wife, five children, and a dog live in a beautiful home with a garden and pool. For the most part, the film is almost entirely focused on their day-to-day domestic lives, depicting chores and familial strife that anyone can relate to.

What sets this family apart, of course, is that the patriarch is Rudolf Höss, the man who oversaw and engineered the horrors within the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Höss, portrayed by Christian Friedel , is placed within the film as a typical working man. He sits through dull meetings, expresses frustrations about his superiors, and comes home to a family life that is fulfilling but births conflicts and problems of its own. The movie approaches the mundane struggle of Höss' domestic and professional life in stark contrast to the magnitude of evil going on all around their home , offering a perspective on how even the most complicit people put mental barriers up between themselves and the harm they cause.

'The Zone of Interest' Uses Sight to Tell One Story, and Sound to Tell Another

The Höss family sits at the river by their home on a beautiful, sunny day in 'The Zone of Interest'

The use of sound in The Zone of Interest is the vital element that makes the film so sobering and horrifying. While the visual look of the movie is often beautiful and incredibly subdued, the soundscape is constantly lined with gunfire, screaming, and a low industrial whirring. The industrial sounds may seem innocuous, but they come from the machinery that was used for mass executions and burning of dead bodies. These sounds penetrate every frame, with spare glimpses of the sources coming in the form of blazing smokestacks and trains passing by the margins that are created by the protective barrier around the Höss family home. The film keeps the characters, and the viewer, separated from the imagery we most often associate with Holocaust-set films , and in doing so can tell two conflicting stories at once.

Sandra Hüller and baby are in a garden in The Zone of Interest

'The Zone of Interest' Review: Jonathan Glazer’s Haunting, Restrained Journey into Evil

The brutal horrors of Auschwitz are captured in the background of the soundscape, as what we see and hear most presently is a relatively simple domestic drama. Höss is promoted, and he has to move as a result. His wife, played by Academy Award nominee for Anatomy of a Fall , Sandra Hüller , is unhappy because she does not want to leave what they consider their dream life. The bleak truth of anyone possibly finding that place, surrounded by such evil, to be the most ideal home for their family, is horrifying to accept. But the Höss family is living in a state of cognitive dissonance, neglecting the suffering they are actively overseeing. The gunshots and screams, signifying lives being taken in real-time, have become indistinctive from the sound of birds chirping—background noise embellishing the mundanity of their lives.

This dissonance between what is seen and what is heard is how The Zone of Interest makes its most direct statement about evil, one concerned with how banal the most cruel human behaviors can become when people begin to treat them as normal. The banality of evil is what makes it so dangerous, because it strips away this notion that we tell ourselves that the Nazis were so inhumanely cruel that it is hard to even imagine how they existed. The Zone of Interest reminds us that the most dangerous thing about them is that they are simply people like everyone else, people who grow dejected and uncaring when it appears that harmful actions may benefit them in some way, or at least not negatively impact their lives.

What Does That Flash Forward Mean In 'The Zone of Interest's Ending?

The Zone of Interest ends with Höss leaving a party that celebrates the success at the concentration camp. Everything is relatively working out for him. His working conditions have allowed him to return home, and he is being promoted as one of the key figures responsible for the "success" of the Holocaust. In the haunting final minutes, Höss descends a staircase quietly, twice stopping to retch. Is it his conscience catching up with him, or maybe a consequence of the pollutants at the camp? Their serene homestead is shielded from the sights of the horrors, but the walls and fences cannot save them from breathing in the ashes that spill into the air and water.

As Höss regains his composure, he stops for a moment and gazes down a corridor which quickly recedes into pitch black, and the film suddenly cuts away. The film is now in the modern day, and workers are shown cleaning the Auschwitz memorial museum. Piles of shoes, prison uniforms, gas chambers, all arranged to communicate the enormity and the brutality of his life’s work.

The film cuts back, and Höss is still staring down the corridor into nothing, likely having seen what the viewers were shown as well, a vision of how he will be resigned to history. He cannot distance himself from his legacy at this point, because it just stared him right in the face. Höss continues descending the staircase, perhaps to the Hell where he knows he belongs. The Zone of Interest concludes with a lengthy shot of empty space, a black screen, the sight of which will remind you that you may have forgotten to breathe over the silent, sobering final sequence. Yet there is no resolve. The complicity of evil, the way people push aside the horrors they wrought in order to keep living their mundane lives. These are things Glazer wants us to reckon with because they are not only about our past, but our present and future as well. The Zone of Interest holds a mirror to a world that is passive in the face of evil in a way that will leave a haunting impression.

The Zone of Interest is playing in theaters in the U.S.

Get Tickets


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