Sunday, July 26, 2009

Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar By James Marcus Bach

This is an interesting book. I found in on Amazon in a free stuff for Kindle and downloaded it just out of curiosity while traveling back home from work on a train.

The book starts with a story how James got invited to a school to talk about his success in self-education where he tells kids that it is o.k. to drop off the school if you want. The idea of leaving the school and taking care of your own education is kind of wild. However, something like that happened to me once.

I kind of dropped off my English class at the high school. I did not think I could learn English in a way it was taught to me. In the same time, I was studying math at the extra-curriculum School of Mathematics created by Moscow State University. I was a straight A student at this school. I also studied music at a local Music School.A few years later, I took English classes at the local club and later at the Donetsk State University. I was taking care of my own eduction also. Therefore, I got hooked on the story, continued reading the book and found a few more things that were important to me, as James says, "authentic".

I like the author's style. It is personal, honest, and open. The whole book is like an autobiography. In addition, it has a lot of great advices on how to learn things. I especially liked the idea of cyclic learning, i.e. going through iterations to refine the understanding of things. I also liked the idea of alternation of learning activities, which is especially useful in learning computer programming - read and code, then do it again, and again.:) There are a lot of other great advices on learning.

The part about the career in the software testing was quite interesting. I am doing software testing these days also. I learned quite a bit on how James achieved success in this area and his approach to selecting things to learn. So, it was quite useful. I would even say that a big part of this book is specifically for software testers.

I am not sure that I agree with all the things James suggested. I still think the school is important. Things don't always happen the way we want, but it is our responsibility to find a better way and fix it. The problems in school are for a reason. Randy Pausch used to call these kind of things - walls. Quitting is easy, but than we miss a chance of learning how to deal with those problems. The school is a safe environment to do so.

I am glad I read this book. It was an interesting read. It has lots of great advices on learning, working and living It made me think a few things over. This book is not so easy to forget. A few things mentioned in it are still bugging me. I like that. :)