Famous people from all walks of life have been homeschooled for at least part of their educations. Many homeschoolers have gone on to become inventors, authors, entertainers, statesmen, and more. Some have actually changed the world! This list is just a sampling of an illustrious group of famous homeschoolers.
Thomas Edison – Inventor
Thomas Edison (1847 – 1931) was a brilliant inventor who created or improved over a thousand inventions. Some of the most well known include the incandescent light bulb, the stock ticker, the phonograph, and the motion picture camera. He also was instrumental in building the electrical supply system that was needed for his inventions to work.
Edison was homeschooled for a large part of his childhood. He had a hearing problem which made paying attention in class difficult, and his active imagination led him to daydream too much. In spite of this, he was a bright, inquisitive boy who asked questions constantly. He drove his teacher crazy, and she said he must be “addled” in the brain. After that incident, his mother pulled him out of school to homeschool him for the remainder of his education, teaching him herself and encouraging his interests.
Louisa May Alcott – Author
Louisa May Alcott (1832 – 1888) was most famous for writing the classic novel Little Women. She also wrote several other books, edited a children’s magazine, wrote poetry, and wrote thrillers for adults under a pen name. She volunteered in the movements for temperance and women’s suffrage, and served as a nurse during the Civil War.
Alcott’s father was a schoolteacher, yet she and her sisters were homeschooled rather than attend school. Her father believed in a holistic approach to education when this was not the norm, and encouraged his daughters’ individual talents, establishing an intellectual environment that promoted learning and imagination.
George Washington Carver – Scientist / Agricultural Researcher
George Washington Carver (1861 – 1943) was best known for his extensive work with peanuts, sweet potatoes and soybeans. In his efforts to help farmers in the South find new cash crops, Carver discovered over 300 uses for peanuts and over 100 for sweet potatoes. His work rescued the southern economy at a time when the cotton crops were ruined, helping to end the South’s dependence on cotton.
The child of slaves, Carver was orphaned at a young age. He was taught reading, writing and spelling at home by his former owners, because there was no school nearby that would allow him to attend. He spent a great deal of time outdoors, drawing and developing his interest in plants, and was known as the “plant doctor”. He did not enter formal schooling until the age of 12.
Theodore Roosevelt – U.S. President
Theodore Roosevelt (1858 – 1919) was the 26th president of the United States. He was also a well-known military hero in the Spanish American War as Lieutenant Colonel of the Rough Rider Regiment. As President he was well known and loved for his efforts to stop unfair business practices and protect the American public. He was also responsible for the treaty that allowed the building of the Panama Canal, and was one of the first public figures to emphasize the need to protect America’s natural resources.
As a child, Roosevelt was homeschooled because he was sickly and had asthma. His parents made a wide array of reading materials available and didn’t force him to study any specific books. Roosevelt also learned through traveling with his family, and focused on exercise as a way to improve his health.
Sandra Day O’Connor – U.S. Supreme Court Justice
Sandra Day O’Connor (1930 – ) was the first woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court. She served from 1981 until 2006 when she retired. She was known as a moderate conservative, and was the deciding vote in many cases. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, in 2009.
As a young girl, O’Connor lived on her family’s remote ranch in Arizona. The isolated location made sending her to school difficult, so she was homeschooled by her mother for the early years of her education. She read extensively, spent time on long nature walks, and learned many important things through everyday life.
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