How do homeschooled children turn out as adults, anyway? Do they know how to interact in society and hold jobs? According to a survey conducted by the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, over 74% of home-educated adults ages 18-24 have taken college courses, as opposed to 46% of the general US population. Homeschoolers are found in every occupation and are generally more active in their communities, with 71% of homeschooled adults participating in ongoing community service as compared to 37% of their same-age, non-homeschooled compatriots. If you’re still not convinced that a homeschooler can grow up to be successful, here are a few famous homeschoolers who just might change your mind. I’m sure you’ve heard of a few of them.
You don’t get much more famous than this. George Washington was tutored by his father until his father’s death, then taught at home by his mother. Without Washington’s strong leadership, the American Revolution may not have ended with the same results. He also played a large role in the crafting of the US Constitution. Washington was our first—and one of our most famous—Presidents. You really can’t do much better than that.
Like most children of his time, Thomas Jefferson was also homeschooled. He went on to become the Third President of the United States. Among his many great accomplishments, we wrote the Declaration of Independence, doubled the size of the United States by sealing the Louisiana Purchase, and served as an ambassador, Secretary of State, and Vice President as well as President. Not only was he homeschooled, but his thoughts, experiences, and teachings inspired the modern Thomas Jefferson Education philosophy popular in homeschooling communities (http://www.tjed.org/).
Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt was our exuberant 26th president. He was also the first American to win a Nobel Peace Prize in any field. Roosevelt was homeschooled by his parents and tutors and was well known for his solid grasp of geography, history, biology, French, and German. He was accepted to and graduated from Harvard University. Before he was President, he served as Governor of New York, Vice President, and Assistant Secretary of the Navy. How’s that for a résumé?
Roosevelt was one of the Presidents commemorated on Mount Rushmore. The other’s were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln. What do all these men have in common apart from being great Presidents of the US? Not one of them was formally educated as a child. They were all self-educated and/ or taught at home. In other words, they were all homeschooled!
Author Mark Twain
“Don’t let school interfere with your education,” Mark Twain once famously stated. Curious statement, don’t you think? Mark Twain received very little education and what he did receive he got at home. Due to the informal-structure of his education, he could be considered an “unschooler.” Still, he went on to become a writer so famous that we still read his works today. “Huckleberry Finn” is one of his most famous novels.
Chief Justice, US Supreme Court– John Marshall
John Marshall was homeschooled before attending one year at Campbell Academy. He later attended William & Mary College, where he studied law. Marshall was elected to his state legislature in 1782, became Richmond’s most respected appellate attorney, influenced the ratification of the US Constitution, served as a Minister to France, was elected to Congress, served as Secretary of State for John Adams, and was then appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the US in 1801. Marshall had an amazing 60-year public service career.
Andrew Carnegie’s family was extremely poor and he received very little formal education, but his family’s love of books and learning instilled in the immigrant boy a love for education that continued throughout his life. He did not suffer for lack of schooling. In fact, Carnegie went on to own the Carnegie Steel Company, which produced ¼ of all the steel in the US in 1900. He sold his company to US Steel in 1901 for a huge amount of money in his time: $250 million. He wrote numerous books and invested his fortune in the creation of Carnegie Hall, numerous libraries, and the Carnegie Institution of Washington.
General Douglas McArthur was one of the most famous military commanders in American history. Part of a military family who moved from one post to the next frequently, his mother taught him math, reading, and writing. He did attend West Texas Military Academy for a time as well. McArthur went on to graduate from West Point and led soldiers into combat in WWI, WWII, and the Korean War. He received a Medal of Honor and had a spectacular military career.
George Washington Carver
George Washington Carver was born a slave and was adopted by his owners, who continued raising him after the Civil War. Although they were too poor to afford any formal education, they did homeschool him. They taught him to read. With this knowledge, Carver discovered the world around him. He once said, “I wanted to know every strange stone, flower, insect, bird, or beast.” He later left home for a formal education and attended a series of schools before graduating from Minneapolis High School. He became the first black student at Iowa State Agricultural College and later their first black faculty member. Carver became a famous scientist and promoted growing alternative crops to poor farmers instead of cotton, such as peanuts.
Venus and Serena Williams
Did you know what Venus and Serena Williams were both homeschooled? They don’t seem too bad off, now do they? They’ve won multiple tennis championships, including wins at Wimbledon in 2001 and 2000. As of 2011, these high-achieving sisters had 22 Grand Slam Titles between them. They are two amazing ladies (in this list, I’m counting them as one unit of homeschooling awesomeness).
Dakota Fanning was homeschooled from second grade through eighth grade and loved it because it gave her so much freedom to pursue her acting career. She chose to attend high school for the “high school experience.” She has starred in multiple movies, including “I Am Sam” and “Sweet Home Alabama.”
This list is by no means comprehensive. There are many, many more famous homeschoolers. For a great list, check out: Famous Homeschoolers: http://www.famoushomeschoolers.net/
Homeschooling Grows Up: http://www.hslda.org/research/ray2003/default.asp