Famous Unschoolers

Famous Unschoolers who have never attended school or dropped out of school in early elementary. What’s so ironic about schools is they name them after people who never even went to school or successful dropouts, as you’ll see below, many unschoolers have schools named after them!

“Many of the world’s greatest geniuses all had in common that they were pulled from the school environment. They were freed to discover the undiscovered. They had the imagination to ‘see’ a different way and the drive to try to build what they had seen.” ~ Kytka Hilmar-Jezek, [Born To Learn]

Tim Tebow (Football and baseball star who did not attend a single day in public school until his first day at the University of Florida. Tim instead spent his early education years working on his family’s farm and attending classes taught by his parents together with his siblings)

Jaden Smith

Billie Eilish (Unschooler who loved horseback riding as a child and then pursued a highly successful music career with 53 million Instagram followers)

Gabriel Conte (Youtube personality who only went to 1st & 2nd grade, was homeschooled and went to college)

Ansel Adams

Mike Mann

Akiane Kramarik

Alex Olson (American professional skateboarder and entrepreneur)

André Stern (André is a musician, music composer, guitar maker, author and journalist who never went to school)

George Burns (Successful TV and movie comedian that dropped out in fourth grade to go to work shining shoes, running errands, and selling newspapers)

Sawyer Fredericks (American singer–songwriter who won the eighth season of The Voice in 2015, homeschooled using the unschooling method)

George Washington (1st U.S. President; former general; Chairman of the Constitutional Convention; U.S. nickname: “The Father of Our Country”; face is pictured on the U.S. one dollar bill and twenty-five cent coin (quarter) (no formal education; home schooling/life experience; went to sea in his youth)

Theodore Roosevelt (American statesman, politician, conservationist, naturalist, and writer, with no formal education, who served as the 26th President of the United States from 1901 to 1909. He served as the 25th vice president from March to September 1901 and as the 33rd governor of New York from 1899 to 1900. His face is depicted on Mount Rushmore)

Andrew Jackson (7th U.S. President; face is pictured on the U.S. twenty dollar bill (13, U.S. Continental Army; orphaned at 14; little formal education; home schooling/life experience; studied law in his late teens and became a lawyer)

Martin Van Buren (8th U.S. President (little formal education; later began studying law at age 14 while an apprentice at a law firm and became a lawyer)

Cesar Chavez (U.S. farm labor leader pioneer (17, U.S. Navy; elementary school dropout)

Carl Sandburg (Pulitzer Prize-winning best-selling American author; Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient (little formal education; later passed entrance exam to Lombard College and graduated)

W. Clement Stone (Self-made multimillionaire (some sources indicate billionaire) American businessman-author; founder of “Success” magazine (elementary school dropout; later attended high- school night courses and then some college)

William Owens (Baseball player (elementary school dropout; received honorary high-school diploma at age 94)

Abraham Lincoln (16th U.S. President; face is pictured on the U.S. five dollar bill and one-cent coin (penny) (little formal education [Lincoln himself estimated about one year]; home schooling/reading books/life experience; later received three honorary law degrees after becoming president: 1860, Knox College; 1861, Columbia College [now Columbia University], 1864, College of New Jersey [now Princeton University])

Millard Fillmore (13th U.S. President (little formal education [six months]; home schooling/life experience; later studied law while a clerk with a judge and at a law firm and became a lawyer)

Patrick Henry (American Revolutionary War era politician; Virginia’s first governor; famous quote: “Give me liberty, or give me death!” (little formal education; home schooling/life experience; later studied on his own and earned a law degree)

William Fox (Father of actor Michael J. Fox (left school in the sixth grade; later had a brief career as a jockey and then a career in the Royal Canadian Army Signal Corps)

Rabindranath Tagore (He said, “I was fortunate enough to extricate myself before insensibility set in.” on quitting school at 13 (Indian polymath, poet, musician, and artist)

Cori “Coco” Gauff (15 year old professional tennis player who is unschooled)

Ben Swann (American television news anchor, award winning investigative journalist, and political commentator who was homeschooled - High School Diploma at 11, Bachelors Degree at 15, Masters Degree at 16, and so did all 9 of his siblings)

Dr. Francis Collins (Head of the Human Genome Project)

Thomas Edison (Probably the most famous and productive inventor of all time with more than 1,000 patents. Became a self-made multimillionaire and won a Congressional Gold Medal. Edison got a late start in his schooling following an illness, and, as a result, his mind often wandered, prompting one of his teachers to call him “addled.” He dropped out after only 3 months of formal education and was homeschooled by his mother.)

Colonel Harland David Sanders (Founder of KFC, Kentucky Fried Chicken, dropped out of school two weeks into 7th grade, at age 13. Held at least a half dozen jobs by the time he was 17 and lost 4 of them)

Andrew Carnegie (Billionaire who made his money in the steel industry, 4th richest person of all time with a net worth of $310 Billion, adjusted for inflation)

Alexander Graham Bell (Inventor of the telephone for which he received his first patent in 1876 was Unschooled until he was 11, after that he went to Edinburgh’s Royal High School for 2 years)

Elias Howe (Inventor of the sewing machine who attended some primary school, but at the age of six, he gave up school to help his brothers make cards used to manufacture cotton since his dad was a farmer and a miller)

Amadeo Giannini (Founder of Bank of America)

Horace Greeley (Founder of NY Tribune)

Guglielmo Marconi (Inventor of radio)

Eli Whitney (Inventor of the cotton gin)

Benjamin Franklin (His love of storms led him to invent the lightning rod. He was born into poverty with 17 siblings and dropped out of school at age 10 to go to work with his father, and then his brother, as a printer. Although he never served as President of the USA, he was a Founding Father found on all four founding documents including the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Alliance with France, the Treaty of Paris and the U.S. Constitution)

C.S. Lewis (Homeschooled by private tutors until age 9 when his mother died in 1908 from cancer. His father then sent him to live and study at a boarding school where very little learning occurred because he was overseen by an authoritarian tyrant headmaster who was drifting into insanity and soon after committed to a psychiatric hospital so Lewis left that school and went on to attend college for a few months before dropping out)


Charles Dickens (Attended elementary school until his father was imprisoned for debt so he dropped out of school at age 12 and began working 10-hour days in a boot blacking factory)

Founders of New York Times

Mark Twain (After his father died unexpectedly in 1847 leaving his family in poverty, he dropped out of school at age 12 to earn a living at a newspaper as a printers apprentice)