Stevie Wonder is an American singer, songwriter, and musician who is admired by millions for his passion, his drive, his personality, and his humble wisdom. He’s no doubt a learned man, but did he learn anything at college?
Stevie Wonder did not go to college, as his career was well underway by the time he graduated from the Michigan School for the Blind in 1969. His educational journey was incredibly unique, and his success speaks to the wonders of a tailored learning experience.
Much like the story of his life, the story of his educational journey is far from ordinary. Let’s hit the books and find out everything there is to know about Stevie Wonder’s education, and how he gives back to the sector today.
Stevie Wonder’s Early Education
Stevie Wonder was born on 13 May 1950 to Calvin Judkins and Lula Mae Hardaway. He was born in Saginaw, Michigan, and lived there until his parent’s divorce when he was four years old.
After the divorce, Lula Mae and her three children moved to Detroit. Lula Mae would reconcile with the father of her first child and go on to have three more children, making Stevie the third of six kids.
Growing up, Stevie was incredibly close with all of his siblings but he had a particularly close bond with his older half-brother Milton Hardaway. As a teenager, Milton would walk Stevie to school and earned himself the nickname ‘the walker’.
Every day, Milton would guide Stevie on the one-mile journey from their home at 18074 Greenlawn to Fitzgerald Elementary school.
Fitzgerald Elementary school was a public school that, while technically classed as a ‘mainstream school’, catered to students with visual impairments. Though he enjoyed school, he had attendance problems.
Because Stevie’s career with Motown Records was already underway, he was not able to attend school regularly. A fact that landed Lula Mae in hot water with the Detroit Public School System for truancy.
The head of Motown, Berry Gordy, hired a tutor called Mrs. Traub to school Stevie while touring. Ultimately, this didn’t work out and Mrs. Traub suggested that he attend the Michigan School for the Blind.
Stevie Wonder’s Time at the Michigan School for The Blind
Stevie’s time at the Michigan School for the Blind, or MSB, is intricately linked to Ted Hull. Ted had just graduated from Michigan State University as a teacher for visually impaired students and began working at MSB shortly after.
Stevie was technically a sixth-grader, but Ted revealed that he had missed so much school while touring that he would have to repeat the fifth grade.
Though employed by the school, Ted unofficially became Stevie’s private teacher and traveled with the young star to performances, rehearsals, and recording sessions — squeezing in learning sessions whenever they could.
They would fit classes in around Stevie’s responsibilities, often learning in hallways or corners backstage. Ted says that “The world became his classroom” and that “Stevie’s bright young mind absorbed it all like a sponge”.
Ted would be Stevie’s tutor from the fifth grade right up until Stevie graduated from MSB in 1969. The pair developed an incredibly strong bond that remains intact to this day.
While Stevie is the most high-profile alumni to attend MSB, he’s not the only famous person to have studied at the school. Robert Mahoney, Doug Spade, and George Wurtzel all attended the school, which is now abandoned.
Does Stevie Wonder Care About Education?
Stevie is an inspiration to many people around the world, for many different reasons. Over the years, he has used his platform to fight for the rights of people regardless of their race, disability, and socioeconomic status.
One of the causes that lie closest to Stevie’s heart is education. He has publicly supported a vast array of charitable organizations, many of which focus on improving education.
Stevie has supported the Brain Trust, the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education, the Jackie Robinson Foundation, the Fulfillment Fund, and ARK, all of which are causes that champion education.
Despite not going to college, Stevie has also supported the United Negro College Fund to ensure that minorities can attend college. This cause is also supported by celebrities such as Jennifer Hudson, Kevin Hart, Lionel Richie, Pharrell Williams, Usher, and Beyoncé.