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Stacy Conradt
The Quick 10: 10 Famous Homeschooled People
by Stacy Conradt - November 17, 2008 - 3:59 PM


christie1. Agatha Christie. Agatha was a painfully shy girl, so her mom homeschooled her even though her two older siblings attended private school.
2. Pearl S. Buck was born in West Virginia, but her family moved to China when she was just three months old. She was homeschooled by a Confucian scholar and learned English as a second language from her mom.
3. Alexander Graham Bell was homeschooled by his mother until he was about 10. It was at this point that she started to go deaf and didn’t feel she could properly educate him any more. Her deafness inspired Bell to study acoustics and sound later in life.

4. If Thomas Edison was around today, he would probably be diagnosed with ADD – he left public school after only three months because his mind wouldn’t stop wandering. His mom homeschooled him after that, and he credited her with the success of his education: “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint.”

5. Ansel Adams was homeschooled at the age of 12 after his “wild laughter and undisguised contempt for the inept ramblings of his teachers” disrupted the classroom. His father took on his education from that point forward.

6. Robert Frost hated school so much he would get physically ill at the thought of going. He was homeschooled until his high school years.

7. Woodrow Wilson studied under his dad, one of the founders of the Southern Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS). He didn’t learn to read until he was about 12. He took a few classes at a school in Augusta, Georgia, to supplement his father’s teachings, and ended up spending a year at Davidson College before transferring to Princeton.
8. Mozart was educated by his dad as the Mozart family toured Europe from 1763-1766.
9. Laura Ingalls Wilder was homeschooled until her parents finally settled in De Smet in what was then Dakota Territory. She started teaching school herself when she was only 15 years old.

10. Louisa May Alcott
studied mostly with her dad, but had a few lessons from family friends Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Can you imagine?

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Comments (15)
  1. Thanks for highlighting some famous homeschooled people. I was homeschooled from 6th grade through high school. I acutally had a professor (I wasn’t taking his class) sit me down my freshman year of college and tell me that I wouldn’t make it to graduation…implying that homeschooled people are stupid. If you do just a tiny bit of research, you’ll find that typically homeschoolers make higher scores on all standerdized tests (compared to public-schooled kids). I ended up w/ a 3.2 GPA in college…not the best but definitly decent. I should track that professor down…haha

  2. Heh, I had no idea any of these people were homeschooled! I was homeschooled all my life and started college full-time at 16. Everyone I’ve talked to has always said they think I’ll do better than most (and so far, I’m a senior with a 4.0 GPA!).

  3. But it all comes down to the student and the teacher(parent/guardian/actual teacher). If a student genuinely doesn’t care, they won’t succeed no matter how they are educated. Likewise if the person teaching the child isn’t really teaching them, the child won’t get a proper education whether they be home, public, or private schooled.
    Obviously, these were people who had a desire to know and they had people who had a desire to help these people. This doesn’t definatively say one way or the other if homeschooling is better. I know people who homeschool and are very well educated and people who say they are homeschooling just so they don’t have to say that they’ve dropped out of school.
    Personally, I do attend a public school and it suits my learning style just fine; but I can’t speak for everyone. To each their own.

  4. Very interesting article. Does anyone have any stats (not just anecdotal evidence) of how homeschooled kids perform on standardized tests? I’m usually not a fan of tests like that, but it seems like the data exists already and would be easy to find.

    I know two homeschool families. My cousins were taught by my aunt, who was a former teacher and devoted her life to making sure they had an incredible education (they went on to good schools — one is a lawyer, one is a marketing executive for a company that sells children’s books, and one is a therapist). If I was hiring someone to revamp public education, she’d be my top choice.

    The other family, however, was the polar opposite. They were our neighbors growing up and the two kids were pulled out of elementary school after a dispute over science education. Their parents were ill-equipped to educate their kids, and by the time they could “drop out” officially, they did. They are probably in their mid-30s and still live at home. Not sure what exactly they do there.

    So anyway, my experience couldn’t be more conflicted. I’d bet a lot of home school people will read this — any stats would be appreciated.

  5. The only thing that bothers me about homeschooling is the social aspect. I’ve met many homeschooled kids who were never able to develop social skills. My neighbors homeschool their kids. The daughter is 18, but you would never believe it. She’s completely socially inept and acts like a 12 year old.

    I’d be interested in hearing from homeschooled kids on this issue.

  6. My brother was homeschooled by my parents from 4th grade through 8th grade. He decided that he wanted to go to high school, mostly for the social stuff. They pulled him out of school because he was dyslexia and had ADD and, like Robert Frost, would become sick every morning before going to school. His teachers did not understand his learning style and he has an IQ of over 135. I continued in public school and did great, graduating with a 3.7 and have a masters degree. My brother is a computer whiz and makes more money than I do with an associate’s degree. However, because of him and my parents struggles with the public school system, I became a special education teacher, hoping that I can prevent some people going through what my parents did.

  7. I was homeschooled from kindergarten through high school and am now a semester away from graduating from college. My parents did an excellent job of teaching me (and when I was older, providing me with resources so I could teach myself). I was also free to choose at any point to attend a “real” school if I wanted to. My schooling was pretty loosely structured, but I feel my education was just as good as that of my friends who attended private and public schools. I always did very well on standardized tests and was a National Merit finalist, but I think the real benefit of homeschooling goes beyond test scores. With one-on-one instruction and without a rigid schedule kids are able to explore so much more than they could in a regular classroom and focus on the things that interest them, not be confined by a cookie-cutter curriculum. Obviously some structure has to be imposed, and basic subjects should not be neglected, but overall I think it’s a highly effective way of learning for many people (although not for everyone).

    The difficulty, as SpecialAgentBaker remarked, is that both the parent and the child have to be committed to the effort or really bad things can happen (I’ve seen some of them). In response to Anne’s comment about socialization, it is true that some homeschooled kids are isolated by their parents and don’t develop proper social skills, but those cases are definitely the exception and not the rule. With a little effort a parent should be able to find plenty of ways to get their kid involved socially, whether through a local homeschooling group, city recreational sports, church activities, or even just playing with the neighborhood kids.

    I could go on, but that’s probably more than anyone wanted to read. I hope it interests someone!

  8. Louisa May Alcott is one lucky gal! I wish I could study under such literary geniuses!

  9. @ special agent baker.
    well said sir. I was homeschooled all the way through highschool and i’m getting ready to graduate college with a gpa of about 3.6.

    it’s all about the learner and teacher. Learning is natural, kids are born curious…so it’s up to the teacher not to make learning a chore.

  10. Thanks for this information, I appreciate it. Just wanted to toss out a comment considering the “socialization” aspect of homeschooling. All of the homeschool families I know (our family included), do not keep their children in a bubble; they do have interaction with other people and learn proper social skills. I don’t understand why so many people think that traditional school equals proper socialization. In schools, children are mostly around other children, and learn from those children. If we are training our children to be adults, why do they need to be spending so much time- most of their day- with other children?

    Also, here is an article related to standardized testing statistics:

  11. Theodore Roosevelt was home schooled as well. He went on to Harvard later on, and I suppose you know the rest.

  12. Don’t forget about Eric Rudolph (the Atlanta Olympics bomber)–he’s a famous homeschooled kid–and his brother amputated his own hand–awesome education.

  13. My poor niece was “homeschooled” by her pathetic mom instead of attending school. My niece has no skills, talents or academic abilities, although she thinks she is above average. She can barely read, and cannot do even the most basic math. At age 18 and a half she has yet to pass her GED. She was mostly kept home to keep her mom company. I imagine they’ll live in their urine-drenched hovel with their ten cats until they die.

    At least in a real school the kids can find out what normal people are like, and can possibly find escape from wretched homes/families.

    (Yes we tried to help her.)

  14. Thanks for such a great article! I was homeschooled from 6th grade to 12th grade. I’m now a senior in college with an (almost) 3.5 GPA.

    And get this: I’m going to school to be a teacher. Everybody kinda flips out when they find out that the future teacher was homeschooled!

  15. This is a great list! I was homeschooled from 3rd grade on; I’m extremely grateful for it and consider it the best thing to happen to me academically. My mother was my primary educator, and she used a mix of purchased cirriculum and her own lesson plans. She also made sure that I was involved in extracirricular activities that would provide sufficient socialization and opportunities to form friendships (some of which I have to this day).

    Because I was homeschooled, I was to start college at age 16 (just as another poster has said). I’m now at a public university; I’m an honors student and will most likely graduate summa cum laude. However, I also have a great group of friends and have no problems socializing. As a matter of fact, I’ve never had socialization issues; I’m a “people person” and feel quite comfortable in social situations.

    The bottom line is homeschooling can be a dream or a nightmare - it all depends on the child’s needs, the parents’ dedication, etc. If the parents (or whomever the primary educator[s] is/are to be) are willing to make the necessary sacrifices, have the ability to provide the proper information and materials, and make sure the child receives plenty of opportunities for socialization with peers, then it’s likely to be a highly positive experience that will benefit the child for the rest or his or her life.

    It’s when homeschooling is used as a cover for simply yanking the child out of school that it becomes a negative experience. I’ve known situations where the child had problems at one particular school or going to school was simply “inconvenient,” so the parents “homeschool” their child by leaving the child to sit at home all day and typically learn nothing of value. Then there are some parents who can’t or won’t devote the time and resources that are necessary to provide the proper education. There are also those parents who provide a strong education, but neglect social necessities that children have, thus fostering the “homeschoolers are socially inept” stereotype.

    Again, the success of homeschooling really depends on the person/people doing the homeschooling. If done wrong, it results in the perpetuation of the stereotypes homeschoolers like myself have constantly had to fiught, but if done right, it provides a great foundation for the homeschooler’s entire life.