Here is a more in-depth look into over twenty people who benefitted from being homeschooled. The flexibility and depth of home education can help your children go far in life, in pursuit of their passions.
Before, and into the 20th Century, the number of successful women who were homeschooled isn’t surprising. Often lamented in many an autobiography is how formal education prioritised teaching boys.
This led parents to pioneer their daughters’ education, and in some instances also their sons’.
Although education’s limitations are gone, there are many parents who still choose to follow in the footsteps of those history-making homeschool pioneers.
1. Billie Eilish
Forbes magazine has described the Grammy award-winning artist as a ‘poster girl’ for homeschooling.
Alongside Eilish’s older brother, Finneas O’Connell, who is now her ‘main collaborator’, Eilish was homeschooled for the entirety of her schooling.
In an interview with Pitchfork magazine, Eilish stated, “I’ve never been to school. I grew up homeschooled, stayed homeschooled, never was not homeschooled.”
“Being homeschooled is all about self-discovery. It’s something that I’ve really enjoyed and thrived under. I’m not at a high school where I have to base my self-worth off what other people think of me.”
Inspired by the band Hanson, the singer’s parents’ decision to educate her at home gave Eilish the ‘ability to follow her own interests and nurture her creativity.’
2. Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
Like a lot of America’s presidents up to FDR, Abraham Lincoln’s education started at home.
The 16th President of the United States had little formal education. He was mostly self-taught. However, Lincoln’s parents did have a profound impact on his thirst for knowledge.
Although reports of Lincoln’s acumen are connected to his being raised by an abusive father, Lincoln’s brilliance is ultimately linked to his mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln.
After her passing, Lincoln attributed his solace to Nancy teaching him from the Bible, stating, “all that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”
3. Justin Bieber & Hailey Baldwin
This celebrated couple was both homeschooled. Bieber’s reasoning for the home education journey was pragmatic. He needed space to develop his musical career.
At the age of 13, St. Michael Catholic School in Ontario, Canada, ‘granted the celebrity online classes.’ Republic Worldadded that he never attended any physical classes and graduated in 2012.
Long before becoming Mrs Hailey Bieber, Hailey Baldwin was given the choice between a lengthy commute to a Christian school or being schooled at home. Hailey chose the latter.
The daughter of Christian evangelist and actor Stephen Baldwin, Hailey also chose to ‘save herself for marriage.’ So far so good — Baldwin has been married to Bieber since 2018.
4. Bindi & Robert Irwin
The Australia Zoo family team took up homeschooling in order to help manage their commitment to animals and associated media demands.
When 60 Minutes accused the Crocodile Hunter’s wife Terri Irwin of forcing her kids to “live on planet Irwin”, she replied,
“I think it’s wrong to say to Bindi, you’re not normal. I think that’s almost hurtful. I don’t think Bindi’s abnormal. Perhaps she’s doing that most kids don’t, but I see [homeschooling] as a wonderful opportunity; as an asset, not a liability.”
Speaking with Jenny McCarthy, Bindi and Robert Irwin talked about how special life at home was, stating,
“Mum and Dad included us. They encouraged us to follow our dreams. That’s why we’re so passionate now. We’ve always been included in conservation work.”
Steve Irwin’s youngest, Robert, graduated at age 15 in 2019, writing on Instagram,
“Well this is it. Over a decade of study — in planes, trains and thousands of hotel rooms in all corners of the world, and today I’ve graduated from high school. Grade 12 and 2 TAFE certificates done!”
This Order of Australia medal recipient was the youngest woman to solo circumnavigate the globe. Jessica started planning the trip in her early teens.
Australian Museum recalled Watson’s training included:
‘Serving on the crew of a number of vessels, and acting as skipper on another. Jessica logged over 12,000 miles of sailing experience, took several courses in boat safety and operation, and received a first aid certificate.’
Her parents have had their four kids around boats for most of their lives. They were also home-schooled for a five-year stretch while living on board a boat.
Regarded as one of the best gymnasts of all time, Simone Biles began homeschooling in high school.
Raised by her grandparents, Simone has been involved in gymnastics since she was 6. The now 25-year-old American Olympic gymnast chose to homeschool in order to train.
Recalling the decision, Andscape magazine quoted Biles as stating,
“I missed, like, all my friends at school and stuff. But I mean, in the end, it worked out. I decided that I wanted to be better. I didn’t just want to throw my skills, I wanted them to look good.”
8. Bethany Hamilton
The pro-surfer success story took up homeschooling to devote more time to training. Tragically, at age 13, she suffered the loss of her left arm in a random shark attack.
Crediting her faith, Bethany carried on.
Hollywood came knocking and in 2011 her autobiography Soul Surfer was turned into a film. In 2018, her story became a documentary feature, called Unstoppable.
Adding to her growing list of achievements, Bethany is one of the few pro-surfing women with children. She now homeschools her own kids, while being an author and popular public speaker.
9. Julian Assange
The besieged Australian Wikileaks founder and political prisoner ‘was educated via homeschooling and correspondence courses.’
Considered by some as the founder of new media, the computer science wizard’s nomadic parents chose to homeschool him because his mother Christine ‘didn’t believe in formal education.’
His parents separated when he was eight. Then, according to a New Yorker exposé, Assange’s mother moved her children into hiding after a fallout with an estranged boyfriend.
Assange’s home life seems to have had little negative impact on his homeschooling. For most of his home education, it appears as though Assange was actually unschooled.
This is best illustrated by how involved he became in politics. As a maverick journalist, he pioneered the use of technology in investigative journalism. Thus, paving the way for organisations like Project Veritas.
10. Jamie Grace Harper
The American YouTube musical breakout was taught by both parents up to grade 12 because they believed in forming a solid education foundation for their kids.
Pastors and musicians James and Mona Harpers’ musical talent not only inspired the Grammy nominee; their passion spilled over into making music a family event.
Post-homeschool, Harper graduated with a degree from Point University. Using her history with Tourette’s, Jamie uses her platform to spread awareness about the syndrome, as well as mental health issues, drawing from her own experiences.
11. Jane Austen
Jane’s father George was an Anglican priest with an 18th-century love of learning. We largely have him to thank for the celebrated English writer, who is one of the most studied woman writers of all time.
Austin was homeschooled with her father’s love of learning until she attended boarding school. Until then, her father took care of his children’s education, homeschooling them while working as a tutor to boost his income.
Jane Austen was part of a family who, ‘for entertainment, read to each other, played games, and produced poetry, novels, and plays.’
Her image adorns one side of the United Kingdom’s £10 note.
12. Jenna Ellis
Social media influencer, writer, commentator, constitutional law expert, and advisor to President Donald Trump, Jenna Ellis’ parents homeschooled her and two other children up to grade 12.
Ellis then went on to university and graduated with a degree in journalism, before postgraduate study granted her a Juris Doctor law degree.
Reflecting on homeschooling during an interview with Focus on the Family, Ellis said she loved the comprehensive deeper learning that homeschooling allows.
Ellis noted the positive impact of holistic home education, stating, “I had the opportunity to engage with all walks of life in ways that traditional education doesn’t allow.”
The Australian-born Catholic saint later became a teacher and governess. Showing concern for the poor, and educating children in the bush, Mary established her own order, and with it a reputation for reform.
This was overturned upon Mary’s direct appeal to the Pope, and the Sisters of Saint Joseph were approved within a year.
Like her order, Mary was ‘dedicated to meeting the material and spiritual needs of struggling people, regardless of their situation or “race.”’
14. Joan Sutherland (1926-2010)
In her autobiography, one of Australia’s biggest music stars wrote: ‘The greatest joy of all was to sit with my mother when she did her vocal exercises.’
From age three, Sutherland said she ‘was able to imitate her mother’s scales, and exercises; learning songs by ear, and later singing them with her.’
Joan Sutherland’s first lessons in music came from her mother, who taught Joan music at home up until she was 19.
From there, Sutherland formerly trained with John and Aida Dickens, performing across the country. This took her to London, where she ‘became a member of the Company of the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden in 1952.’
Paolini was homeschooled right through to grade 12, telling The Guardian,
“Personally, I had a great education. My mum [Talita] was a trained teacher. I could not have written Eragon if I had gone into a public school system because I would have just been too busy attending classes and doing homework — I wouldn’t have had the time to write.”
“So, for me, it worked out great […] I would certainly home-school my children if I have the chance.”
Eragon has sold over 25 million copies. It was written when Paolini was 15. The Montana resident self-published the book at 19.
16. Joey Logano
2018 NASCAR Cup Series champion Joey Logano was homeschooled from the 4th grade onwards after the school he was attending closed down.
The American NASCAR driver began racing at the age of 6. In February 2009 Logano, aged 18, ‘became the youngest driver in the history of the Daytona 500.’ He continues to push the sport’s envelope.
Responding to a comment about homeschooling on Twitter in 2017, Logano wrote, ‘homeschooling allowed me the opportunity to race while I was growing up.
17. Helen Keller (1880-1968)
Helen Keller was tutored at home by Anne Sullivan. Keller’s home education was necessary after an illness left her blind, mute and deaf.
In her autobiography, Keller credits Dr Alexander Graham Bell (who was himself homeschooled until the age of 11) with being the catalyst for homeschooling granting her a history-making new lease on life.
‘He understood my signs, and I knew it, and loved him at once, but I did not dream that that interview would be the door through which I should pass from darkness into light.’
An author, teacher, and inspirational historical figure, Keller likened her home education to the Israelites escaping Egypt. For her, learning was ‘a power divine, touching her spirit and giving her sight.’
18. Agatha Christie (1890-1976)
Popular English novelist and creator of Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie (née Miller) was challenged with dysgraphia, and may have been dyslexic.
Until a series of stress-induced heart attacks, Agatha’s father took on the responsibility for most of her education. After his passing, her mother Clara continued to encourage Agatha’s education. The Millers had help in the form of a nanny, whom Agatha fondly called “Nursie”.
In Agatha’s autobiography, she wrote of how her own Christian faith was nurtured by the Biblical Christian influence of her “simple-hearted Christian orthodox father”, and Nursie’s devotion to Christian discipleship.
As an author, Agatha is said to have ‘only been outsold by the Bible and Shakespeare, with 66 detective novels, 14 short stories, movies, and the super successful play, The MouseTrap.’
19. Marie Skłodowski (1867-1934) &Pierre Curie (1859-1906)
Marie was homeschooled by her father. Under his tutelage she was taught ‘mathematics and physics two fields she wanted to pursue.’
She married Pierre Curie, who was homeschooled as well. They became one of the great power couples of the hard sciences.
Curie attained a degree in physics in 1893 and was later awarded two Nobel Prizes. One of the couple’s lasting legacies is having coined the term ‘radioactivity’, and discovering the elements polonium and radium.
20. Hanson (Band)
People magazine explained that the band behind the song MMMBop, Issac, Taylor and Zac Hanson, were homeschooled alongside their four younger siblings. Reasons given for the trio’s home education include both flexibility and family togetherness.
Twice MTV Music award winners and thrice Grammy nominees, the band of brothers from Tulsa, Oklahoma now have kids of their own. At least one of the brothers, lead singer Taylor and his wife, are homeschooling their seven children.
With the resurgence of political limitations on education, homeschool is again finding favour as an attractive alternative pathway.
Helen Keller’s miraculous triumph over impossible impairments, and Bethany Hamilton’s determination in pursuing a sport at a professional level regardless of her own physical limitations, speak volumes about the power of home education.
Likewise, the Irwin family, the Hansons, Biebers, Curies, alongside Agatha Christie, Banjo Paterson, Julian Assange, and Jenna Ellis, exhibit the quiet strength that is a consequence of parents taking an active involvement in their children’s education.
These 20 famous examples of homeschoolers don’t just illustrate the widely diverse approaches to homeschooling; they present tangible examples of homeschooling’s mighty potential.
Rod, his wife Jonda, and their five kids are homeschooling veterans. Rod spent 12 years in management at Koorong, has a Bachelor’s Degree in Ministry & Theology, and is a writer for the theological, politically edgy news site Caldron Pool. Rod also writes for the Spectator. Find his personal blog here.
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