homeschooled

100 Famous People Who Were Homeschooled

15 July 2022

14.5 MINS

May this list of brilliant homeschooled scientists, mathematicians, inventors, writers, poets, musicians, sporting greats and politicians throughout the centuries serve to inspire parents to take the plunge into home education.

Homeschooling is parent-facilitated education.

Gandhi once said, “There is no school equal to a decent home and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent.”

His words epitomise the power, beauty, and duty attached to the vocation of home education.

From hands-on home education, to being tutored and self-taught, homeschooling is a growing global phenomenon, with a wide-reaching impact.

Charlotte Mason called it self-education, with the view that self-directed learning was the ‘only possible schooling.’ Anything else, Mason said, was a ‘veneer imposed on the surface of a child’s face.’

The many stories below will empower those brave parents who accept the challenge for their children.

1. Bindi & Robert Irwin

Irwins

The Crocodile Hunter’s highly successful Australia Zoo heirs were homeschooled throughout their school years. According to Yahoo Sports, home education allowed ‘flexibility for their wildlife and media commitments.’ Steve Erwin’s youngest, Robert Erwin graduated at age 15, in 2019.

2. Rebecca St. James

Australian Grammy-winning artists Rebecca St. James and her two brothers, Joel and Luke Smallbone, were three of seven kids homeschooled by their parents. The brothers formed the band For King & Country in 2007, and are known for God Only Knows, a duet with country legend Dolly Parton, and Little Drummer Boy.

 

3. David Gordon Kirkpatrick (Slim Dusty)

Country music legend Slim Dusty was born in Kempsey, New South Wales in June 1927. Raised on a dairy farm, and inspired by the folk song and fiddle skills of his father, Kirkpatrick taught himself to play music while listening to a portable record player and radio.

4. Dame Nellie Melba

Australian-born Helen Porter Mitchell (1861-1931) — Dame Nellie Melba — was first educated by her aunts. Her mother Isabella, a skilled musician, gave Melba her first lessons in music. Melba also credited her father David, describing him as a ‘stern master’, and herself a ‘willing pupil.’ Melba adorns the reverse side of the Australian $100 banknote.

5. Joan Sutherland

Joan Sutherland

Australian soprano Joan Sutherland (1926-2010) was taught music by her mother up until she was 19. In her autobiography, Sutherland wrote: ‘The greatest joy of all was to sit with my mother when she did her vocal exercises.’ From age three, Sutherland ‘was able to imitate her mother’s scales, and exercises; learning songs by ear, and later singing them with her.

6. Banjo Paterson

Banjo Paterson

Andrew Barton — Banjo Paterson (1864-1941) — was an Australian poet, soldier, lawyer, and writer. Born in Orange, New South Wales, Paterson was educated by his mother, Rose. His grandmother, Emily Mary Barton, also a writer, helped ‘nurture Banjo’s talent.’ Paterson features in the Australian $10 dollar note.

7. Mary Helen MacKillop

Australian-born Sister Mary MacKillop (1842-1909) was a woman’s rights advocate and educator. Mackillop was educated at home by her father, Alexander. Mary never ‘attended high school, yet her biographer states, Mary’s education was regarded as being of superior quality.’

8. Caroline Chisholm

English-born Australian Caroline Chisholm (1808-1877) was home-educated. Chisholm’s memoirs describe Caroline’s home learning as being the catalyst for ‘her extraordinary mental powers.’

Chisholm is remembered today for her women’s advocacy and service to the poor, especially immigrants.

9. Jessica Watson

Jessica Watson Australian Museum

Australian sailor Jessica Watson, the youngest to solo circumnavigate the globe, was home-schooled for five years while living on board a boat with her family. During her solo circumnavigation, Watson continued to homeschool, while also maintaining a blog.

10. Julian Assange

Julian-Assange

Controversial founder of Wikileaks, Australian Julian Assange, ‘was educated via homeschooling and correspondence courses.’ The Generation X new journalism maverick was homeschooled by his non-conformist nomadic parents, who ‘didn’t believe in formal education.

11. Eddie Koiki Mabo

Indigenous activist Eddie Mabo (1936-1992) was raised by his uncle and aunt after the death of his mother. They taught him Malo law and Meriam custom. He was tutored in English by one of his formal schooling teachers, which helped Mabo as a community leader.

12. Abby & Zac Sunderland

American siblings, Abby and Zac attempted to circumnavigate the globe. The pair struggled with dyslexia and were homeschooled. Although Zac succeeded to sail the globe, Abby’s attempt was thwarted by a rogue wave. Abby is now a mum, encouraging others to ‘do hard things.’

Bonhoeffer

13. Deitrich Bonhoeffer

Martyred anti-Nazi theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer was homeschooled by his mother Paula. According to the epic 600-page authorised biography by Eberhard Bethge, Paula ‘gave her children their first schooling’ until the family moved to Berlin.

14. Charlotte Mason

The British-born Mason (1842-1923) was home-educated. Later becoming an educator, Mason created the Charlotte Mason hands-on learning teaching method, which emphasises reading, writing, and experience.

15. Joan of Arc

French heroine Joan was home-educated by her mother, Isabelle. Although it is likely Joan, a peasant, never learned to read, Joan was as proficient with a needle and thread as she was a farmhand.

16. Amelia Earhart

Female flying pioneer Amelia Earhart and her sister were home-educated up to the age of 12. Her sister recalled how important books and animals were in their lives, stating they both could read before they were five.

17. Gloria Steinem

Feminist Gloria Steinem learned to read because of her nomadic family’s love of books. Though formally schooled, Steinem’s “life on the road” experiences as a child meant her childhood education shifted between unschooling and attending a school.

18. Condoleezza Rice

Condoleezza Rice with Trump

Stateswoman Condoleezza Rice’s parents were hard-core educators, with a love for God, family and country. Rice was taught at home by her mother for two years, which Rice says, ‘launched her academically.’

19. Clara Barton

Clarissa Barton, pioneer teacher and founder of the Red Cross, was home-taught before attending school. A good portion of her education derived from her much older siblings, one a teacher, another a mathematician.

20. Helen Keller

Left deaf and blind from a fight with an illness, Keller was tutored at home alongside institutional learning. Keller likened her home education to Israel escaping Egypt; learning was ‘a power divine touching her spirit and giving her sight.’

21. John & Charles Wesley

The famous 18th-century hymn writers and revivalists had parents who were devoted to learning. They were primarily educated by their mother, Susana Wesley, at home.

22. Jonathan Edwards

Edwards is largely regarded as America’s first theologian. He had the benefit of his father’s tutelage, and that of his older sister’s, who with the oversight of his mother, participated in his home learning.

23. Dwight L. Moody

Somewhat educated by his widowed mother, Moody’s son recalled that his dad was taught to ‘both work and go without things.’ Despite the deprivation, Moody ‘left home at 17, a capable correspondent.’ He remained close to his mother throughout his life.

24. Hudson Taylor

Home-educated Chinese missionary Hudson Taylor rejected Christianity in his teens. He later became a pioneering missionary after reading a tract in his family’s library.

25. William F. Buckley, Jr.

William F. Buckley, Jr.

Television host, CIA alumni, author and conservative intellectual W.F. Buckley Jr was a ‘product of homeschooling (up until age 15).’ His success is credited to the Calvert Education curriculum.

26. Florence Nightingale

The mother of modern nursing received tutelage from her father, who took a special ‘interest in guiding her education through history, math, philosophy, and literature.’ Homeschooled at an early age, Nightingale ‘viewed her call to reduce human suffering’ as directed by God.

27. Sir Ernest Shackleton

Education was a major part of the Shackleton household. The Antarctic explorer was taught by a governess in a lively house. Shackleton’s parents were enthusiastic educators challenging their kids to learn more.

28. Andrew Carnegie

American steel industrialist Andrew Carnegie recounted how he was taught ‘many things’ by his widower uncle. Although Carnegie attended school, he described himself as ‘combative,’ benefiting more from his uncle’s daily tuition

29. Sandra Day O’Connor

The first woman to serve as a Supreme Court Justice in the United States, O’Connor is among the Calvert homeschool alumnae. She was educated on a ranch; O’Connor’s mother took a key role in her early schooling.

30. Winston Churchill

Churchill

In and out of boarding schools, future British PM and prolific author Winston Churchill spent three years being privately tutored by sisters Kate and Charlotte Thompson.

31. Alexander Hamilton

American founding father Alexander Hamilton’s (1755-1804) first teacher was his mother. After her passing, the orphaned Hamilton was befriended by Reverend Hugh Knox, who taught him religion, math and science, while encouraging Hamilton to read and write.

32. Agatha Christie

Dame Agatha Christie, English novelist, was homeschooled for a time with the help of a nanny, fondly called “Nursie.” Christie’s devoted father and mother were champions of her learning, guiding her progress in math and handwriting.

33. C.S. Lewis

CS Lewis at desk

C.S. Lewis had a distaste for institutional education. Before his  mother died, Lewis was taught at home with the help of a governess, and ‘an endless stack of books.’

34. Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

Mark Twain was more the homeschooler, than the homeschoolee. He and his wife home-educated their three daughters, until Twain’s wife Olivia died. From then on, the girls were taught by a governess.

35. Joseph Pulitzer

Famed journalist and news mogul Joseph Pulitzer began his education in private schools, and was also taught ‘at home by a tutor.’

36. Louisa May Alcott

Author of ‘Little Women’ Louisa May Alcott was homeschooled; writing in her memoirs,

‘I never went to school except to my father. Having lessons every morning in the study, my father taught in the wise way, which unfolds […] like a flower in bloom.’

37. Emily & Anne Brontë

Famed family of writers the Brontës were educated at home. Charlotte, the eldest, became their primary teacher after finishing her own education.

38. Jane Austen

Although Austen later attended boarding school, Jane’s father, an Anglican priest with a love of learning, took care of his children’s early education. He homeschooled them while tutoring to boost his income.

39. George Bernard Shaw

Playwright and left-leaning political activist George Bernard Shaw’s education included being ‘educated at home by a clerical uncle.’ Not being fond of formal education, Shaw concluded his schooling at age 16.

40. Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Of Little House on the Prairie fame, Laura Ingalls Wilder spent her childhood years moving from town to town. Her parents homeschooled her whenever school attendance was impossible.

41. Booker T. Washington

Born into slavery, former slave and later educator Booker T. Washington ‘determined as a small child’ to learn how to read and write. He was self-taught, with the help of tutors.

 

42. Noah Webster

Noah Webster, famous for the Webster dictionary, was also an abolitionist and author. He was ‘tutored by Reverend Nathan Perkins,’ and homeschooled in ‘religious principles.’

43. Phillis Wheatley

Phillis Wheatley

Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784) was a slave and abolitionist homeshooled by the Wheatley family. Wheatley became an accomplished poet. After the publication of her book, Wheatley was freed by the family.

44. Robert Louis Stevenson

Author of Treasure Island and other phenomenal literature, Robert Louis Stevenson’s formal education coincided with family travel. Long bouts of illness meant some of his schooling was carried out at home.

45. Bertrand Arthur William Russell

Renowned English atheist and philosopher Betrand Russell was sent to live with his grandparents after the early deaths of his parents. Bonding better with his young grandmother, Russell was tutored, then homeschooled by both an uncle and an aunt before beginning formal education

46. Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter was homeschooled for the majority of her schooling years. Taught by governesses, the Peter Rabbit creator wasn’t keen on formal education, saying,

‘I’m glad I didn’t go to school, it would’ve rubbed off the originality.’

47. Charles Dickens

Though he was largely self-taught, with some formal schooling, Dickens’ mother was his first teacher. She encouraged her son ‘through [the kind of] careful teaching which sparked his imagination.

48. Hans Christian Anderson

Hans Christian Anderson was homeschooled, giving the Danish children’s author ‘reading abilities and intellectual skills.’ From a poor family, Anderson’s home life also influenced his future accomplishments.

49. Robert Frost

Celebrated American poet Robert Frost was schooled at home after a short stint in private school. Despite an erratic childhood, his mother taught him to ‘read and write at home

50. J.R.R. Tolkien 

Tolkien by a tree

English writer Tolkien and his brother were tutored at home by his mother in between formal schooling. According to biographers, Mabel Tolkien transmitted to Tolkien a love of learning.

51. Virginia Woolf

Prolific English author and early feminist Virginia Woolf spent the majority of her schooling being educated at home. Alongside governesses, the ‘main part of Woolf’s teaching’ was carried out by her parents.

52. Christopher Paolini

At age 15, the homeschooled Paolini authored the Eragon series, self-publishing the first book at age 19. He signed a movie deal in the mid-2000s, with Disney now currently looking to buy the rights to the series.

53. Simone Biles

Simone Biles gymnast

25-year-old American Olympic gymnast Simone Biles began homeschooling in high school to meet the rigorous demands of her athletic schedule. Biles is regarded as one of the best gymnasts of all time.

54. Tim Tebow

Tebow, an author and NFL athlete, is a home education graduate. Reflecting on his schooling, Tebow wrote, ‘one of the things I loved about being homeschooled was being able to focus on the things I was passionate about.’

55. Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova

Sharapova is a Russian tennis champion who was homeschooled to ‘help her polish her tennis skills.’ Winner of one Wimbledon, Sharapova has been a UN Goodwill Ambassador, is an entrepreneur, and a social media influencer.

56. Serena and Venus Williams

American tennis stars the Williams sisters homeschooled from ‘elementary through to high school,’ allowing more time to hone their talent.

57. Bethany Hamilton

Bethany Hamilton

Pro-surfer and shark attack survivor Bethany Hamilton took up homeschooling to devote more time to training. Hamilton now homeschools her own kids, while being an author and popular public speaker.

58. Joey Logano

Logano is the 2018 NASCAR Cup series champion, and an American NASCAR driver. He was homeschooled, writing on Twitter: ‘Homeschooling allowed me the opportunity to race while I was growing up.’

59. Sage Katsenberg

Katsenberg won gold at the 2014 Winter Olympics. He is a homeschool graduate and an X-games snowboarding champion.

60. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

It is widely accepted that musical prodigy Mozart never attended school. He was taught by his father, a ‘professional musician and scholar

61. Felix Mendelssohn

Jewish-Christian composer Felix Mendelssohn’s first lessons came from his parents. He was educated at home between a mix of tutors and formal schooling.

62. The Jonas Brothers

Music success story the Jonas Brothers were schooled at home right through to high school. Their no-regrets education powered their passion for music.

 

63. Justin Bieber & Hailey Baldwin

The husband-and-wife celebrities were both homeschooled by their respective families. Bieber withdrew from formal schooling to manage his fame; Baldwin choose to be homeschooled rather than commute.

64. Emma Watson

Harry Potter actress Emma Watson took up homeschooling at 10. While making the movies, Watson was tutored on set.

65. Hilary Duff

Of Disney’s Lizzie McGuire fame, award-winning artist Duff was home-taught by her mother.

66. Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish

Eilish, an 18-year-old Grammy winning artist, was homeschooled alongside her brother. Her parents decided to teach from home after being inspired by the band Hanson.

67. Alyssa, Lauren & Rebecca Barlow

Like Hanson and the Jonas Brothers, the successful sisters of the three-piece band Barlow Girl received their education at home.

68. Jamie Grace Harper

Harper, a breakout American musician, was homeschooled up to grade 12. Harper was taught by both parents, and suffers from Tourette’s. She uses her platform to spread awareness about the syndrome.

 

69. Elijah Wood

Wood was schooled via home learning. The Lord of the Rings star is an alumnus of Laurel Springs distance learning pathway.

70. Leonardo da Vinci

The famous Italian artist never had any formal education. Given his origins, Da Vinci is said to have been educated by a parish priest, focusing on math, grammar and reading.

71. William Blake

William Blake

British Romantic poet William Blake was schooled at home by his mother and a book-loving father. ‘Thank God,’ Blake wrote, ‘I was never at school. To be flogged into following the Style of a fool.’

72. Grandma Moses

Born Anna May Robertson, the American folk-art legend was given home-style country education. Anna credits her mother with teaching most of what she knew.

73. George Washington Carver

GW Carver

Carver (1864-1943) was an American scientist raised by his former master, Moses Carver. Homeschooled by Carver’s wife, George was the ‘first black faculty member of Iowa State.’

74. Orville & Wilbur Wright

Sons of a pastor, the Wright brothers were schooled early by their mother, Susan. Thanks to her efforts, they could read before formal schooling began. Orville was homeschooled until the second grade.

75. Alexander Graham Bell

By all accounts, the inventor of the telephone was educated up the age of 11 by his mother and his highly educated father. Bell also played a key role in the development of sign language, and the life of Helen Keller

76. Thomas Edison

Inventor extraordinaire, Edison’s mother pulled him from school after an altercation with his teacher. His mother, a former teacher, took on his instruction via homeschool.

77. Benjamin Franklin

Franklin came from an educated church family. Although self-taught, Franklin credits his uncle, an ‘ingenious man’, with preparing him for formal schooling.

78. Pierre Curie

The French physicist who co-discovered radium, Pierre Curie (1859-1906) was educated at home by his father.

79. Marie Skłodowski (Marie Curie)

Marie Curie

Marie, later Pierre Curie’s wife, was also educated by her father. Curie was awarded two Nobel Prizes, and coined the term ‘radioactivity.’

80. Blaise Pascal

French mathematician and physicist Pascal was tutored by his father and mother at home. His ‘domestic education’ was due to his poor health from the age of 2.

81. William Penn

Quaker and founder of Pennsylvania, William Penn received a mixture of formal and informal education. Penn was tutored after a season in grammar school.

82. Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton’s mother sought to teach him to be a farmer. However, an avid reader, Newton pursued his own education, alongside attending a ‘little day school.’

83. Erwin Schrödinger

The Nobel Prize-winning physicist was homeschooled up to the age of 11. His education bounced between tutors and his well-schooled parents.

84. Soichiro Honda

Soichiro Honda

Soichiro Honda (1906-1991) was self-taught; the Japanese industrialist and founder of Honda was never formally educated. Through working with his father, a blacksmith, Honda learned a love for mechanics.

85. Bill Lear

Of Lear Jet and 8-track fame, Bill Lear was a self-taught genius, who held 150 patents at his death in 1978.

86. Erik Demaine

At age 20, Erik Demaine became the youngest professor at MIT. Demaine was schooled at home by his father, who ‘wanted to be engaged in his [son’s] education.’

https://youtu.be/PHXrRgmgMWg

87. Samuel C. C. Ting

American-born physicist Samuel Ting homeschooled up to the age of 12, after his parents moved to China, then Taiwan. He won the 1976 Nobel Prize for Physics.

88. George Washington

America’s first president left school at an early age to run his late father’s farm. Washington taught himself through a mi of observation and reading.

89. Abigail Adams (née Smith)

Abigail, the wife of John Adams, the second President of the Unite States, not only homeschooled their own children, she ‘was educated entirely at home.’ The astute first lady could hold her own in any debate.

90. James Madison

Not living close to a school, the parents of the fourth President of the United States educated their kids at home. After a stint in boarding school, he returned home to be tutored.

91. John Quincy Adams

JQuincy Adams

The sixth President of the United States, son of Abigail and John Adams, travelled with his statesman father besides being schooled at home by his mother.

92. Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, had little formal education. Although he was mostly self-taught, Lincoln’s parents had a profound impact on his thirst for knowledge

93. Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt

Winner of the 1906 Nobel Peace prize, Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, earned his homeschool stripes by way of tutors.

94. Woodrow Wilson

The 28th President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, is said to have suffered from dyslexia. He was schooled at home until age 12. Wilson was awarded the 1919 Nobel Peace prize.

95. Franklin D. Roosevelt

FDR, the four-term 32nd President of the United States, was home-educated up to the age of 14.

96. George Patton

General George Patton was dyslexic. As such, his parents homeschooled Patton until age 12.

97. Douglas MacArthur

Educated by his father at an early age, General Douglas MacArthur received a mixture of homeschooling and formal education.

98. Selena Gomez

The Latin American celebrity and Disney alumna was mostly schooled at home.

99. Ryan Gosling

American actor Ryan Gosling spent a year being homeschooled when he was 10. He credits that experience with giving him ‘a sense of autonomy that [he’s] never really lost.’

100. Jenna Ellis

Jenna Ellis

Jenna Ellis, writer, commentator, constitutional law expert, and advisor to President Donald Trump, received her education at home before completing college.

~~~

This list’s consistent theme is flexibility. Joining this theme are faith, family, and freedom. Each play in a role in the desires and goals of those who choose to teach at home.

All four themes permeate the stories of the 100, demonstrating the enormous opportunities homeschooling can provide.

___

First published at Dads4Kids. Photo by Mart Production.

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6 Comments

  1. Cody Mitchell 15 July 2022 at 7:48 am - Reply

    Wow, a fascinating article Rod. So many people I never knew were homeschooled 😮

    Tyler Joseph from 21 Pilots was also homeschooled, I believe. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyler_Joseph

    • Rod Lampard 21 July 2022 at 8:45 am - Reply

      We’ve been doing H/S for over a decade, and even we were surprised by some in the list. More so, I think, the variety of ways each were home educated. It offers a good look into how easy homeschooling can be, if done right.

    • Rod Lampard 21 July 2022 at 8:49 am - Reply

      A massive undertaking, but an encouraging list. We’ve been doing H/S for over a decade and even we were surprised by some on it. More so how much variety there is in how these people were home educated. It shows how easy homeschooling can be, when done right.

  2. Nathaniel Marsh 15 July 2022 at 4:47 pm - Reply

    Amazing list Rod – Great work! In short, many of the greatest humans of all time were home-schooled… Interesting… 😉

    • Rod Lampard 21 July 2022 at 8:47 am - Reply

      Quite a few were. Digging deep helped me learn more about the how and why. Liberating, as well as encouraging on many fronts. All of these people and their parents were pioneers in the field of education. I think what stuck out the most was how many fathers were involved in their daughter’s education, especially in the eras when priority was given to educating boys.

  3. Warwick Marsh 22 July 2022 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    This is a brilliant article Rod. Congratulations bro!!!!

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