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Ever Heard of Any These People? They Changed the World Without a Formal Education

Updated on December 16, 2019

David Bowie

They didn't need Formal education to transform society

David Robert Jones, the greatest musician of his time, whose career impacted the music industry like no other during the 20th century was entirely self-taught. He had no academic background in music.



This article is about exceptionally talented and skilled genius minds whose efforts helped in positively affecting the society they existed in at the time, while having not passed through the formal learning process. Something that has been a handicap to a many served for them a stepping stone from which they leaped to greatness. People like the incredible Thomas Edison, Michael Faraday and others. The numerous achievements made by these human wonders impacted society at their time, continues to do so and will also continue to resound throughout history. Today they stand as symbols of achieving the impossible, and scarcely will anyone read about them without being inspired motivated and challenged.

It is said that they left humanity a better stock than they met them. You should aim for that after hearing their stories.



10. Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek


He was one of the first few people to achieve anything worthwhile in the fields of microscopy and microbiology. Due to his pioneering contributions to both fields especially microbiology, he came to be known as the father of microbiology. Surprising is the fact that he achieved all he did without having passed through the formal learning process. His pioneering work did a lot in helping to establish microbiology as a scientific discipline.

He is also famous for refuting the doctrine of spontaneous generation after his study on lower animals. His efforts equally helped lay the foundations for the sciences bacteriology and protozoology.


9. David Robert Jones


He is one of the greatest musical minds of the 20th century. A fact to which most would agree. His career which spanned 54 solid years greatly impacted the music industry in a way that few have done.

He was largely a product pure talent and natural skill, as he had no formal musical training. At a young age, he had learnt various musical instruments by himself. His outstanding and high profile career was marked by reinvention and visual representation. His music and stagecraft heavily influenced and impacted popular music.




8. Gregor Mendel


He is mostly remembered for the indispensable part he played in the founding of the academic field of modern genetics. After several years of living as a Roman Catholic monk ( an Augustinian Friar to be precise), he decided to engage in a research mission in the field of genetics, at the end of which modern genetics was born. A field so importantly interconnected with other fields in our time.

Mendel was inspired by his research by the work of Franz Unger. He carried out his 8-year research using pea plants, the results of which gave birth to Mendel's laws of inheritance.


7. Andre Ampere


Most who are familiar with the physics field of electrodynamics will also equally be familiar with the legendary Ampere and his numerous well-remembered exploits in the field. He is almost singlehandedly responsible for the founding and naming of the science of electrodynamics. As a child, he received no formal education, following his father's insistence on self- education. Jean Jacques Ampere, his father, believed his children should pursue an education direct from nature. Ampere grew to become one of the greatest physicists of his generation, making groundbreaking contributions to the field and producing numerous invaluable technological and scientific inventions.


6. Srinivasa Ramanujan


He is a mathematician who is well known for his unmatched mathematical genius, and astounding mathematical discoveries that his even his educated counterparts respected and commended.


He played important roles in the advancement of various mathematical fields, including mathematical analysis, number theory infinite series and a host of others also helping to provide solutions to problems deemed unsolvable during his time. There is no doubt the heights he would have climbed if he had the advantage of formal mathematical training that he likes heard. He remains India's greatest mathematician and one of the greatest the world has ever seen.


5. Ada Lovelace


Ada Lovelace remains one of the most well-known females in the history of computer technology, courtesy of her work on calculating machines, especially the Charles Babbage proposed mechanical general all-purpose computer the analytical engine.


She was the first to recognize that Charles Babbage machine had an application that reached beyond pure calculations and wrote the first algorithm intended to be carried out by such machines which earned her a place among the first computer programmers.


4. The Wright Brothers



Orville Wright was born on August 19th, 1871, and his brother Wilbur Wright on April 16th, 1867, the two of seven children to American parents.

The brothers began early aeronautical research. Their interest in aviation may be linked to their father's procurement of a toy helicopter for them during their childhood years. They conducted intense and extensive research into aeronautics, going from one experiment to the other. Their hardworking through the years eventually bore fruit when on the morning of December 17, 1903, they made the world's first successful flight, in 12 seconds, the beginning of an industry that was to change the course of humanity. Today they are remembered as pioneers of the aviation industry, achieving this feat without any academic background whatsoever in the field.


3. Henry Ford


He was one of the greatest industrialists and capitalists of his generation, whose efforts helped revolutionalize the automobile industry.


He attended Detroit Business Institute as well as Goldsmith Bryant and Stratton College, in his later life though he got no degree from both colleges. He is known for transforming the automobile industry by some of the innovative ideas he introduced and created including giving the world the first affordable automobile (his model T), and also his timely introduction of the moving Assembly Line.


2. Thomas Edison


Most who know Thomas Edison remember him for his redesigning of the incandescent electric bulb, one of the numerous inventions he developed. Most also know that as a child, he was largely homeschooled by his mother after he was deemed too dumb to receive a formal education. He settled as an inventor in New York after moving from job to job as a young man. His first invention was the stock ticker, which the Gold and stock photography company bought from him for $40,000. His later inventions include a more viable version of the incandescent electric light bulb, the phonograph, the telegraph, and numerous others, all inventions that greatly impacted and transformed society at the time.


1. Michael Faraday


You have most probably seen an electomagnetic motor. Those who may have seen but are unfamiliar with the name have at least seen inventions like ceiling fans, refrigerators, electric cars, DVD players, and even smartphones ( you own one don't you?) at work probably being operated by them. All bear the fingerprints of the incredible man pictured above. This British physicist and chemist ( he was exceptional in chemistry as well), is the father ( whether directly or indirectly) of all technological brainchildren of your favourite geniuses that operate on the electromagnetic induction principle ( even high school physics classes explain this principle understandably).

Remember we mentioned he was also outstanding in chemistry too? That's right, he discovered the laws of electrolysis, which are of huge importance in the field today and has been since they were discovered. You might be surprised that this remarkable genius has no access to a formal education, especially in the fields to which he so immensely contributed. He was largely self educated. He read widely and voraciously putting into practical use the suggestions and principles he fished from the books he read. His career as a scientist gave the world many important scientific discoveries, which were made mostly by his study and research on electromagnetism. So next time you are enjoying the numerous services provided by electric power, do well to remember that without our Faraday, you wouldn't have access to all those wonderful services and programs ( means you wouldn't be able to stream Netflix as well, or glare at your high def. 3D television late into the night). At least he deserves that silent tribute. Doesn't he dear folks?


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