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Notable Homeschoolers

Collected by Carolyn K., director, Hoagies' Gifted Education Page

Also visit Grade Skipped and Successful and 2e = Exceptional Squared!...

So many children throughout modern history have been home schooled, and then become highly successful members of our society.  You would be amazed at some of the people, from the 1700's through today, who spent some or all of their time being schooled at home rather than in the schools! 

2002 Geography Bee (and nearly every other year!)
This year's first and third place winners are home schooled, and the winner is the youngest of the 55 contestants, at only 10 years old.  Two other top ten finalists are home schooled...
 
Ansel Adams, (1902-1984) arguably the greatest photographer of the 20th century
"At twelve, unable to stand the confinement and tedium of the classroom, he utterly disrupted his lessons with wild laughter and undisguised contempt for the inept ramblings of his teachers. His father decided that Ansel’s formal education was best ended. From that point forward, the boy was home-schooled in Greek, the English classics, algebra, and the glories of the ocean, inlets, and rocky beaches that surrounded their home very near San Francisco."
 
John Adams, (1735-1826) 2nd president of the United States
John Adams was taught to read at home, and then happily went for lessons with a handful of children, taught in the kitchen of a neighbor woman.  He was considered "fitted for college" and proceeded to Harvard at age 15...
 
John Quincy Adams, (1767-1848) 6th president of the United States
"The rector of the school thought him impertinent and merited a thrashing, as he informed his father. Adam's response was exactly what his own father's would have been. "Send the boys (John Quincy was 12 or 13 at the time) to me this evening," he answered. He had no wish to see his children subjected to such "littleness of soul" he explained to Abigail in a letter..." "Adams arranged for tutors for the two boys, and the opportunity for them to attend lectures at the university."
 
Louisa May Alcott, (1832-1888) author of Little Women and Little Men, among others
primarily educated by her father
 
Alan Alda, actor, screenwriter and producer
Alda started college at 16, after being partially homeschooled... in his autobiography Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I've Learned
 
Bronson Alcott, her father...
self-educated
 
Wilson Bentley, (1865-1931) pioneering work in the area of photomicrography, most notably his extensive work with snow crystals (snowflakes)
self educated, The Snowflake Man: A Biography of Wilson A. Bentley
 
Colfax family, (1980's) Grant, Drew, Reed and Garth.  Parents David and Micki became "well known in the 1980's for "homeschooling" three of their sons into Harvard."  The boys... have gone on to become Fulbright and Rockefeller Fellows with high honors at Harvard
The Colfax boys didn't attend school, but instead were homeschooled in their "Forty-Seven-Acre Classroom."  Drew completed his studies at Harvard and became a physician.  Read more in thier books, Hard Times in Paradise and Homeschooling for Excellence
 
Agatha Christie, (1890-1976) author of many, many mysteries including Murder on the Orient Express...
Taught at home by a governess and tutors, as a child Agatha Christie never attended school
 
Edward Curtis, (1868-1952) photographer of the early 1900's
"complicated, passionate, self-educated pioneer and visionary artist who rose from poverty and obscurity to become the most famous photographer of his time"
 
Erik Demaine, assistant professor of computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the leading theoretician in the emerging field of origami mathematics
home-schooled by his father, traveled around the United States, settling somewhere new every 6 to 12 months; he started college courses at 12, and received his doctorate at 20 and at the same age became the youngest professor ever at M.I.T. In 2003 he was granted a MacArthur "genius" fellowship...
 
Thomas Edison, (1847-1931) inventor
"Edison entered school in Port Huron (at age 7), but his teachers considered him to be a dull student. Because of hearing problems, Edison had difficulty following the lessons and his school attendance became sporadic..."  "He was taught at home by his mother, a former teacher..."
 
Paul Erdos, Hungarian mathematician
"Until he reached his teens, Erdös's mother kept him out of school, fearing that it was the source of childhood contagion."  His biography: The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of Paul Erdös and the Search for Mathematical Truth
 
Benjamin Franklin, printer, inventor, statesman, and more
attended grammar school from age 8 - 10
 
Guterson family, (1980's) 3 sons
"It is this contradiction--schooling his own children at home, while teaching his neighbors' children in school--that Guterson tries to dissect and defend," in Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense
 
C.S. Lewis, (1898-1963) author, Chronicles of Narnia
He was tutored at home by his mother and a governess at first, then after his
mother's death (about 10) was sent to various boarding schools, and later was sent to live with a tutor, who prepared him for Oxford. 
 
Abraham Lincoln, 16th president of the United States
Tutors, self-educated
 
Todd Lodwick, Nordic skier, World Cup winner and Olympic 2002 skier
?
 
Countess Augusta Ada Lovelace, (1815-1852) credited with being the first woman programmer
Daughter of Lord Byron, Ada was educated at home by governesses and tutors hired by her mother.  US Department of Defense named the programming language ADA in her honor
 
Benoit Mandelbrot, Harvard mathematician who pioneered the study of fractal geometry
...did poorly in school and was homeschooled by his uncle from age 12
 
Margaret Mead, (1901-1978) anthropologist
Sometimes she was even schooled at home by her grandmother. In school, Margaret sometimes felt out of place because of her personal background...
 
Yehudi Menuhin, (1916-1999) Violinist
"I went to school for precisely one day at the age of 6, by which time I could read quite well, and write, and calculate a little. My one day was not unhappy but  bewildered. Very quietly I sat in the class, the teacher stood at the front and said incomprehensible things for a long time and my attention eventually wandered to the window through which I could see a tree. The tree was the only detail I remembered clearly enough to report at home that afternoon and that was the end of my schooling."
 
Christopher Paolini, author of the Eragon Series
Eragon debuted at #3 on the New York Times bestseller list, and quickly moved to #1 on the children's bestseller lists nationally. The Inheritance Cycle: Eragon (2002), Eldest (2005), Brisingr (2008), Inheritance (2011)
 
Polgar sisters Sofia, Susan, Judit, chess masters
Their autobiography, Queen of the Kings Game...
 
Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) author
"never received a formal education"
 
Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) the discoverer of oxygen, and the father of modern chemistry
Also the founder of the first Unitarian church in America.  In his mid teens he fell seriously ill with tuberculosis of the lungs, was forced to drop out of school, and for a time abandoned his plan of entering the ministry. As he gathered strength after his illness, he taught himself French, Italian, and German and learned Chaldean, Syrian and Arabic. Privately, he also learned the rudiments of geometry, algebra and mathematics...
 
Gloria Steinem (1934- ) feminist, writer and co-founder of Ms. Magazine
Ages 10-17 attended school on an irregular basis, while caring for her emotionally disturbed mother...
 
Rosemary Sutcliff (1920-1992) author
"Childhood illness, Stills Disease, kept her close to home and under the watchful care of her mother. She was home schooled by her mother, and in the process was introduced to Celtic and Saxon legends. This had the unexpected result of delaying her reading. Having been weaned on Beowulf, she could not bear to read from a new reader's primer. It was not until she and her mother returned to England in 1930 that she learned to read."
 
Swann family Alexandra, Victoria, Christopher, Dominic, Francesca, Benjamin and others (10 children!)
"In spite of the rapid pace, however, we never skipped any grades.  Although we were in school every day, our hours were not long.  Accelerated education gives a young person an early start on life."  Also read No Regrets: How Home Schooling Earned Me A Masters Degree At Age 16.
 
Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) architect
He was educated at Second Ward School, Madison [only] from 1879 to 1883.  He entered the University of Wisconsin at 15 as a special student, studying engineering because the school had no course in architecture
 
Virginia Woolf, (1882-1941) author
"Virginia was educated by private tutors and by extensive reading of literary classics in her father's library."
 
Andrew Wyeth, (1917- ) artist
"His parents, based in part on his frail health, made this decision about his education. Rather than continuing to deal with schools any longer, he attended until the third grade; it was thought best his father [N.C. Wyeth] taught him at home."  Read The Homeschooling of Andrew Wyeth
 
Jamie Wyeth, (1946- ) artist
"He left public school after the sixth grade to be tutored at home so he could devote more time to art. Having acquired most of his own schooling from private tutors, his father didn't consider a formal education necessary for an artist."

Other reference sources, with lists of home schooled successful people:

Famous Homeschoolers
famous homeschoolers throughout history...
 
Famous People Who Homeschooled
by field, from educators (including university presidents!) to Inventors, Generals to Artists, and many others...
 
Homeschoolers Success Stories by Linda Dobson
Presidents, business people, writers, visual artists, military personnel, women, and more...
 
The Right Choice: Home Schooling, Chris Klicka
Book with a chapter full of folks who "never received a formal education"
 

Copyright © 2002-2007 Carolyn K.

Last updated November 14, 2012

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