Ever so often, someone will ask on homeschool groups if anyone could name some famous homeschoolers. Now a lot of times, I’ve seen lists of famous homeschoolers include people from more than a hundred years back, like Thomas Edison, or Benjamin Franklin. This is fine, and certainly valid, but perhaps a little irrelevant. Schools and the concept of education for the masses didn’t come about until the late 1800s, so people who were around before then were homeschooled. This was a generally accepted convention in those days. If people’s families were rich enough, they could hire governesses and private tutors for their children. The English royal family certainly have always been homeschooled – and by that, I mean home-tutored with governesses and the like, until the recent century, when they started sending their children to top elitist private schools like Eton.
In the olden days, homeschooling was nothing out of the ordinary. It wasn’t seen as something that would cause children to become “weird” or “shy”. When the concept of mass education started getting entrenched in the social psyche, many people started viewing the concept of homeschooling as being unconventional at best, damaging at worst. Those who think that homeschooling creates weirdos or social inepts should be reminded of the fact that many adults have graduated from conventional schools, still painfully shy, or socially awkward, or bad-mannered. Years of socialisation in conventional school obviously did nothing for them, so what’s their excuse?
Returning to the topic of “famous homeschoolers” lists, I feel that these lists should focus more on people who have been homeschooled after the era of mass education/schools had begun. At least then it can be shown that homeschooling works, even when homeschoolers had to compete with the millions of others who, unlike them, had been through conventional school.
I’ve compiled a list of famous homeschoolers below, based on my own criteria of them having to be from a more recent time, when conventional schooling is the norm. These people (or rather, their families) were brave enough to venture away from the well-trodden path. I’ve also tried not to include many child prodigies – in fact I don’t think I did – because I often hear people say that homeschooling is “okay only if a child is very gifted or talented”… and I have to disagree. Homeschooling is a valid choice for children who are not born prodigies, and I want the list to reflect that.
So here goes… bearing in mind that not all of them have been homeschooled through their entire childhood :
- Condoleezza Rice (American diplomat)
- Venus and Serena Williams (professional tennis players)
- Julian Assange (founder and chief of WikiLeaks)
- Agatha Christie (English crime writer)
- Patrick Moore (English astronomer)
- Margaret Atwood (Canadian author and poet)
- Francis Collins (American medical doctor and geneticist; director of the Human Genome Project)
- Josh Hutcherson (American actor)
- Jennifer Love Hewitt (American actress)
- Grant Colfax (Harvard medical school graduate, doctor, and director of HIV/AIDS research policy for the Obama administration)
- C. S. Lewis (British novelist)
- Natasha and Daniel Beddingfield (Kiwi/British pop musicians)
- Mark Beaumont (Scottish TV broadcaster, author and documentary maker)
- Jimmy Wales (founder of Wikipedia)
- Willard Boyle (Nobel prize-winning physicist)
- Ansel Adams (American photographer and environmentalist)
- Michelle Kwan (American figure skating world champion and Olympic medallist )
- Tim Tebow (professional American football player)
- Blake Griffin (professional American basketball player)
- Joey Logano (American NASCAR racing driver)
- Astra Taylor (Canadian film maker; best known for her films “Zizek!” and “Examined Life”)
- Miranda Cosgrove (American actress most famous for her role as Carly in the iCarly TV series on Nickolodeon)
- The Jonas Brothers (American pop group)
- Demi Lovato (American singer)
- Selena Gomez (American actress and singer)
- Hilary Duff (American actress and singer)
- River Phoenix (American actor)
- Hanson (American pop band, big in the 90s)
I’m sure there are lots more I haven’t mentioned.There are many lists available online, like here for instance, which lists many famous historical figures who were homeschooled too.