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Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar: How Self-Education and the Pursuit of Passion Can Lead to a Lifetime of Success

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This unique and insightful book challenges our prevailing and often fallacious attitudes about schooling. In today's volatile job market, ideas are more important than training, innovation is more important than credentials; traditional schooling may no longer be necessary or even useful. The ability to educate oneself 'to learn how to learn' is crucial. In Secrets of a Bu This unique and insightful book challenges our prevailing and often fallacious attitudes about schooling. In today's volatile job market, ideas are more important than training, innovation is more important than credentials; traditional schooling may no longer be necessary or even useful. The ability to educate oneself 'to learn how to learn' is crucial. In Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar James Bach demonstrates how to nurture one's natural curiosities and passions through the whimsical learning process he calls 'buccaneering' demonstrating that those who understand this fundamental principle will come to dominate this new world.


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This unique and insightful book challenges our prevailing and often fallacious attitudes about schooling. In today's volatile job market, ideas are more important than training, innovation is more important than credentials; traditional schooling may no longer be necessary or even useful. The ability to educate oneself 'to learn how to learn' is crucial. In Secrets of a Bu This unique and insightful book challenges our prevailing and often fallacious attitudes about schooling. In today's volatile job market, ideas are more important than training, innovation is more important than credentials; traditional schooling may no longer be necessary or even useful. The ability to educate oneself 'to learn how to learn' is crucial. In Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar James Bach demonstrates how to nurture one's natural curiosities and passions through the whimsical learning process he calls 'buccaneering' demonstrating that those who understand this fundamental principle will come to dominate this new world.

30 review for Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar: How Self-Education and the Pursuit of Passion Can Lead to a Lifetime of Success

  1. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    The author dropped out of school with an 8th grade education and in his early 20's became a software tester at Apple Computers - a position usually reserved for college graduates. James Marcus Bach is the son of Richard Bach, who wrote Jonathan Livingston Seagull. One of the things the author shared during a talk he gave to a group of school children: School is temporary. Education is not. If you want to prosper in life: find something that fascinates you and jump all over it. Don't wait for som The author dropped out of school with an 8th grade education and in his early 20's became a software tester at Apple Computers - a position usually reserved for college graduates. James Marcus Bach is the son of Richard Bach, who wrote Jonathan Livingston Seagull. One of the things the author shared during a talk he gave to a group of school children: School is temporary. Education is not. If you want to prosper in life: find something that fascinates you and jump all over it. Don't wait for someone to teach you; your enthusiasm will attract teachers to you. Don't worry about diplomas or degrees; just get so good that no one can ignore you. This self-titled "dangerous idea" led the author to take responsibility for his education by pursuing his passions in a heuristic way. It's a very provocative idea and I love it. Many intelligent people do not thrive in a traditional classroom and demonstrate learning styles that call for nontraditional approaches. It's encouraging to read and truly consider this alternative for students who struggle with a system that squelches their passions. His unique process is outlined in his book and becomes the reader's roadmap for self-education.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Poiema

    "A buccaneer scholar is anyone whose love of learning is not muzzled, yoked, or shackled by any institution or authority; whose mind is driven to wander and find its own voice and place in the world." This is a deliciously dangerous book: delicious because it taps into the refreshing fountain of intellectual freedom and dangerous because it dares me to cut the moorings of the traditional educational system and launch out into uncharted waters. Have you ever felt flawed because you could not corra "A buccaneer scholar is anyone whose love of learning is not muzzled, yoked, or shackled by any institution or authority; whose mind is driven to wander and find its own voice and place in the world." This is a deliciously dangerous book: delicious because it taps into the refreshing fountain of intellectual freedom and dangerous because it dares me to cut the moorings of the traditional educational system and launch out into uncharted waters. Have you ever felt flawed because you could not corral your attention to a linear course of study? After reading this book, you will begin to see your mental wanderings in a new light. Capitalizing on the premise that "knowledge attracts knowledge," Bach pronounces those random and seemingly irrelevant nougats of learning desirable, enjoyable, and useful. Do you have 13 half-finished books on your nightstand? Do you read parts of them and then meander off on bunny trails somewhere else? No worries--give yourself permission to wander because somewhere along the way those disparate threads of knowledge will converge and connect. Bach excels at analyzing the rhythm of his own unorthodox learning patterns, and in so doing he gives his readers the tools for wiggling free from constraining straight jackets of thought, such as: you must go to school to learn, it is imperative to get good grades, you must not daydream, you must be able to learn from a textbook, you must be able to pass standardized tests, blah blah ad nauseum. No one can accuse Bach of inexperience as a buccaneer-scholar. From his youth he despised school and could not be cajoled into doing the "drudge work served with sanctimony." As an example, he loved physics--played with slide rules (remember those?) and calculated rocket trajectories for fun. Yet he earned only a 49% in the class. Why the "failure"? In his own words: "The problem was the labs. (snip) A 'lab' was a set of instructions in a book and blanks to fill in. These were turned in to the teacher, so that he could check that the blanks were filled with the expected numbers. (snip) These labs were represented to us as "experiments," but there was no inquiry in them. They were just ritual for getting a grade. In practice, a few student performed the ritual to obtain the magic numbers; the rest copied the numbers into their own workbooks. For me, the labs turned physics into a sham. I was told I would not pass the class unless I turned in my completed workbook. Instead, I turned in nothing. My workbook remained empty the whole year. I failed physics, but to this day I feel good that I took a stand for ethics in education." At the tender age of 14, James moved out of his home and into a motel (!) He was not a runaway and his parents were not rejecting or neglecting him. They gave him a monthly allowance and kept in touch. His experience on his own reminds me of Ben Franklin's early years: "I no longer felt angry all the time. I learned how to manage money. I discovered I could live for weeks eating only pancakes. Then for weeks more, I lived on spaghetti. One month I ran out of cash and couldn't afford food for three days. I ate white sugar to stave off the hunger (it just made me sick). I would not repeat that mistake." I have to admit, his parents were gutsy. His father, the author of the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull, provided a lifeline of support and maintained a strong long-distance influence via the telephone. It was he who finally encouraged James to "quit school and take care of your own education." That he did. James holds no formal degrees, yet he is an expert in the field of computer software testing. His list of accomplishments -- from Apple Computers to Silicon Valley and many places in between--is truly remarkable. I loved this guy's honesty, integrity, and gutsy passion for learning. If you are an autodidact, if you homeschool, or if you love learning outside of the box--you will be stimulated and motivated by this delightful read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Hava

    Although I categorized this book as a "self-help book," I wouldn't consider it to be one in the typical sense. Rather, James Bach talks about how to walk your own path - don't be willing to engage in group think or the herd mentality. It's a short book - it took me about two hours to read, and although I skimmed in the beginning, thinking that it wasn't really a book that I'd enjoy and therefore I'd put it down soon, I ended up finishing it one sitting because I was intrigued by the story. Here Although I categorized this book as a "self-help book," I wouldn't consider it to be one in the typical sense. Rather, James Bach talks about how to walk your own path - don't be willing to engage in group think or the herd mentality. It's a short book - it took me about two hours to read, and although I skimmed in the beginning, thinking that it wasn't really a book that I'd enjoy and therefore I'd put it down soon, I ended up finishing it one sitting because I was intrigued by the story. Here was a kid who was almost incapable of fitting into any sort of mold - when he tried, his brain rebelled against him, and he slid into a deep depression. At age 14, he moved into a motel which his parents paid for, plus $25 a week for food. He was allowed to come home once a week to do his laundry. He was not allowed to eat at home. One time, he ran out of money and ate only white sugar for three days (thinking that the sugar would give him energy. Instead, he got really sick). At age 16, he applied for and received legal emancipation from his parents (with his parents' permission) so he could go to work full-time and not have child labor laws applied to him. Definitely not your typical teenager. Reading the book made me think about the inherent conflicts in what he was saying and thinking, and how those same conflicts show up in my own thinking. He's very much so a libertarian from what I could tell - live and let live; don't force others to follow a conformist's path; don't force everyone into one way of living because they should be free to make their own choices, and if that means that they end up doing menial jobs for the rest of their lives, well then, that's what they do. It's their choice. I agree with that - I don't feel that people should be forced to attend school or get a job against their wishes because it's good for them. I don't believe that the government should force people to do things "for their own good" because the "government knows best." Some days, I'd be hard pressed to agree that the government knows anything! But! James also talks about working with a group of computer game testers (he was their manager) and how he implemented a policy that they could have one day off every week (with pay!) if they agreed to spend that day researching information that related to their job. Not a single person took him up on that offer. As I read that, I shook my head in disbelief. Are you kidding me?! I am going to school to become a teacher and I spend much of my free time reading books on education (that's why I picked this book up in the first place - it was in the education section of the library). I feel like the college classes that I have to take keep me from my real education, much like James. I learn more between semesters than I do during the semesters because I have the free time to actually read and learn instead of being forced to skim through boring textbooks and remember a fact just long enough to take the test on the chapter. That isn't where I learn how to become a teacher - I am learning how to become a teacher from the massive amounts of books that I read in my own time, and from spending as much time as I can in the classroom - MUCH more than is required by any of my education classes. But just because I learn as much as I can in my free time and I am a self-taught student doesn't mean that everyone is that way. In fact, I would venture to say that MOST people aren't that way. And James ran into that head first in his own job, when he tried to offer his staff a way to get paid to teach themselves more about their own jobs. They didn't want anything to do with it. So how do I reconcile the "live and let live" philosophy with the fact that, when given the chance, that means that most people would do nothing? I guess that means that in the end, people who are only motivated by outside factors (never by an internal drive) simply won't go as far or do as well as someone who lives to learn. That's the beauty of the free market - if you're willing to work hard and educate yourself, you will thrive. Anyway, obviously a very thought provoking book for me. If anyone else in my circle of friends and family has read it, I'd love to hear their thoughts on the book (either on here or in person).

  4. 5 out of 5

    A. T. Adlen

    Taking Back Control Self-education in this economy is necessary for success, but self-education is most often discouraged within the education system. In my own self-education, I came across this book and many others that are helping steer me in the right direction. One could say the only thing I really needed to learn in school was how to read, how to write, and how to check out a library book. Everything else was superfluous. This however, is a list of invaluable information I gleaned just from Taking Back Control Self-education in this economy is necessary for success, but self-education is most often discouraged within the education system. In my own self-education, I came across this book and many others that are helping steer me in the right direction. One could say the only thing I really needed to learn in school was how to read, how to write, and how to check out a library book. Everything else was superfluous. This however, is a list of invaluable information I gleaned just from Bach's book: 1. Education can only happen in an environment in which people feel respected, and that their learning is necessary. They need love and encouragement from their teachers to succeed, not by way of high marks, but by formulating a personality that comes from knowing things and the curiosity to know more. 2.In school, and even in the working environment, most often others succeed when they have a sense of uniquely belonging. They want to be apart of something, but they want to bring to that something their own unique contribution. This is necessary in the classroom to a student who wants to learn, but doesn't simply want to follow along in the textbook, and regurgitate facts. Think of a pack of wolves rather than a school of fish. We want children and adults who devour their own sought out information, not passive fish who glean what they "can". 3.Criticism and intimidation are not the same thing, but in the school system are hand-in-hand. Most people who are "bad" at science and math, say it is because they are intimidated by numbers. People who are "bad" readers say they are intimidated by words. Numbers shouldn't be threatening, and speed reading should be discouraged. Criticism should be healthy, and failure should be funny. 4. People should be encouraged to take pride in what they can uniquely do, which encourages them to be successful at it, and other things. They should be encouraged to learn outside of school, and for that learning to count. 5. Adults in the workforce need to enrich their lives by continuing to learn. Learning after college, in the workplace, should always happen! Experts know that being an expert means knowing who to ask. Create your own syllabus of books to study. Create a syllabus of questions to spark your curiosity. Don't ignore your curiosity. Learn, explore. Know that you are smart, and no matter what your vocation, become a professional intellectual. As a graduate do you have all the information you need to succeed in the working world? Of course not, no one does. I especially do not, that is why I am continuing to learn, and doing so for free. I may not have the degree but I will know as much as someone who does. I am taking control of what I am learning. I am in the driver's seat again. Are you in the driver's seat of your education?

  5. 4 out of 5

    Paul,

    Short book, I finished it in time to watch a tv show on the flight from LA to Dallas. Well worth the time. Another call to reform the educational system, though this time in the form of a successful dropout from public school. It is also a real life testimony to the effectiveness (at least in this case) of the principles of Teen 2.0. Bach was living on his own very early in his teenage years. Bach has developed a pretty good system of self-education that allows him to stay at the top of an ever- Short book, I finished it in time to watch a tv show on the flight from LA to Dallas. Well worth the time. Another call to reform the educational system, though this time in the form of a successful dropout from public school. It is also a real life testimony to the effectiveness (at least in this case) of the principles of Teen 2.0. Bach was living on his own very early in his teenage years. Bach has developed a pretty good system of self-education that allows him to stay at the top of an ever-changing field (software). Learning stuff as it interests you or as you need it is in direct contrast to the "learn what I tell you to" method of teaching, and hard as it is to believe, real necessity seems to provoke better learning than imaginary necessity.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Adrianna

    Bach vaguely references generalized historical facts or philosophies in attempt to appear smart and educated. However, the fact that the author is a high school drop out is clearly evident after reading a few pages because this book is so poorly written. This is more of a self-indulgent memoir and crusade against education rather than a self-help guide to approach education independently.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tim Mcleod

    It needed an editor. I was looking forward to this being about scholarship for its own sake and expertise outside of the academy, but it reads like a bloated low-budget TED talk.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    It's about a guy given a book deal to boast about himself.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    I though the books concepts were good. I found the arrogance boring when he keeps saying how smart he is. Learn the concepts but ignore the antidotes.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I just finished reading the Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar: How Self-Education and the Pursuit of Passion Can Lead to a Lifetime of Success by James Bach. What education junkie wouldn't be tempted by a title like that? James Bach is a high school drop out who at 20, was the youngest manager ever at Apple computers. The story of his self education is inspiring. He admits that he thinks in sort of random, chaotic ways and that he can only learn things he's passionate about. His philosophy is that I just finished reading the Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar: How Self-Education and the Pursuit of Passion Can Lead to a Lifetime of Success by James Bach. What education junkie wouldn't be tempted by a title like that? James Bach is a high school drop out who at 20, was the youngest manager ever at Apple computers. The story of his self education is inspiring. He admits that he thinks in sort of random, chaotic ways and that he can only learn things he's passionate about. His philosophy is that studying lots of different things is valuable because all subjects eventually come together. (He was able to link clams and fabric) He also talks about how knowledge attracts more knowledge so no learning is wasted, even if it seems unimportant or unrelated. Reading this book made me feel so much better about my own crazy random way of studying and learning new things. It also really validates self education and shows how a degree isn't necessarily the only way to become successful in life. While I don't agree with everything he had to say I highly recommend giving this book a quick read.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    I think what appealed to me about this book was the fact that it was the story of someone who had dropped out of school early and yet made a success of themselves. What I didn't know was that I would learn things that go completely against what I've been taught. Things like, "Procrastinating isn't a way of running away from problems, it's a way of *solving* problems." And that it's ok to *quit* trying sometimes if you feel like it. Of course, one wonders how well James Bach would have done, if he I think what appealed to me about this book was the fact that it was the story of someone who had dropped out of school early and yet made a success of themselves. What I didn't know was that I would learn things that go completely against what I've been taught. Things like, "Procrastinating isn't a way of running away from problems, it's a way of *solving* problems." And that it's ok to *quit* trying sometimes if you feel like it. Of course, one wonders how well James Bach would have done, if he wasn't the son of Richard Bach, author of "Jonathan Livingston Seagull", himself a rather free-spirited, outside the box kind of thinker. For people that want to learn that being "disorganized" isn't always a bad thing, and who want to take a look at learning from a different angle, this is a very good book. I came away from this book with a reinforced idea that "experts" aren't always more knowledgeable about things than we are, some of them just know how to think creatively.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Christina Busche

    Being homeschooled my entire life, I have always marched to the beat of a different drum, not content to merely memorize facts and regurgitate them on tests (Thanks Mom!). I've always had an insatiable curiosity, and have followed my varied interests all over the library and the internet. Truly, my only hobby is "learning." It seems that others I talk to often don't understand that, so it was refreshing to read a book by a person who approaches education in the same manner as I do. And he's a su Being homeschooled my entire life, I have always marched to the beat of a different drum, not content to merely memorize facts and regurgitate them on tests (Thanks Mom!). I've always had an insatiable curiosity, and have followed my varied interests all over the library and the internet. Truly, my only hobby is "learning." It seems that others I talk to often don't understand that, so it was refreshing to read a book by a person who approaches education in the same manner as I do. And he's a successful "buccaneer-scholar" to boot! Very encouraging to know I'm not the only one!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Boykie

    For some reason, the thought that James Marcus Bach is the son of Richard Bach seems to be forcing itself to the fore. Richard is the author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a book that has been on my reading list for donkeys now. In a way this also appears to be a prompt to get round to reading the book. So far it's my best book of 2020. The overall theme of the book is to set your own learning agenda and to get busy learning. "I succeed not because I have powerful friends, or a lot of money, but For some reason, the thought that James Marcus Bach is the son of Richard Bach seems to be forcing itself to the fore. Richard is the author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a book that has been on my reading list for donkeys now. In a way this also appears to be a prompt to get round to reading the book. So far it's my best book of 2020. The overall theme of the book is to set your own learning agenda and to get busy learning. "I succeed not because I have powerful friends, or a lot of money, but because I am better educated at my craft than many of my competitors. My education is a competitive advantage." The book uses some really good metaphor to explain the main concepts with the overall metaphor being that of being a 'pirate' riding the open seas hunting for treasure. The buccaneers lived a carefree life and lived to their own code. That's the sense you get as to how you should approach your education. It mirrors much of John Taylor Gatto's teachings. Especially poignant is at the end of the book he mentions his son Oliver dropped out at the seventh grade, John Taylor Gatto is of the opinion that at the age of 7 a human is fully developed. Secrets of a buccaneer scholar also touches upon the art of reading and get's to the core of Mortimer Adler's message in "How To Read A Book": "Scout reading can benefit from speed reading techniques. But when I’m mulling, I’m finding connections between this text, other text, pictures, and the rest of my life. I’m interpreting and reinterpreting the book. I’m arguing with the author as I go. Reading is not just a game of memorization, for me." In fact, in the process of writing this review I'm following the very same advice i.e connecting ideas. As well as covering how to get a quality education, the book also teaches what Jordan Peterson and Charlie Munger teach - truth and integrity: "I learned long ago to hate the sick feeling in my stomach when I tell a lie and the similar sick feeling of losing the respect of a friend. This makes integrity an authentic problem for me." That passage from the book was a good reminder for me that I too hated that sick feeling and to always stay true to my principles.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anthony

    Key points: - Reputation is your credential. - Choose a meritocratic field, the one which doesn't care about paper credentials. - Before starting to learn a subject, scout for information. Make a broad base of resources to come back to, when deeper learning is required. - Learn by solving personal problems, those which either threaten survival, or inhibit happiness. - Alternate between learning and doing. - Have a disposable time allotment. A time which you allow yourself to waste. - We learn throu Key points: - Reputation is your credential. - Choose a meritocratic field, the one which doesn't care about paper credentials. - Before starting to learn a subject, scout for information. Make a broad base of resources to come back to, when deeper learning is required. - Learn by solving personal problems, those which either threaten survival, or inhibit happiness. - Alternate between learning and doing. - Have a disposable time allotment. A time which you allow yourself to waste. - We learn through stories. Everything is a narrative. - Find a way to do apply what you are learning. Coming back again to the statement that there should be alteration between acquiring information and using it. - "If you are in a car race, one way to win is to drive very fast. But if you understand the car as a system, you know that the winning driver is the one who sometimes slows down, stops, and refuels. " - Failure in learning is a success too. Because you start to understand what you don't know. - Intelligence is simply a tool. - One way to go about constructing a syllabus is through asking yourself questions you would like to resolve.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

    Key points: - Reputation is your credential. - Choose a meritocratic field, the one which doesn't care about paper credentials. - Before starting to learn a subject, scout for information. Make a broad base of resources to come back to, when deeper learning is required. - Learn by solving personal problems, those which either threaten survival, or inhibit happiness. - Alternate between learning and doing. - Have a disposable time allotment. A time which you allow yourself to waste. - We learn through s Key points: - Reputation is your credential. - Choose a meritocratic field, the one which doesn't care about paper credentials. - Before starting to learn a subject, scout for information. Make a broad base of resources to come back to, when deeper learning is required. - Learn by solving personal problems, those which either threaten survival, or inhibit happiness. - Alternate between learning and doing. - Have a disposable time allotment. A time which you allow yourself to waste. - We learn through stories. Everything is a narrative. - Find a way to do apply what you are learning. Coming back again to the statement that there should be alteration between acquiring information and using it. - "If you are in a car race, one way to win is to drive very fast. But if you understand the car as a system, you know that the winning driver is the one who sometimes slows down, stops, and refuels. " - Failure in learning is a success too. Because you start to understand what you don't know. - Intelligence is simply a tool. - One way to go about constructing a syllabus is through asking yourself questions you would like to resolve.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Discipline and meaningless hard work—not needed in James Bach's world. When you love what you do, you work hard naturally because it sets the curiosity of your mind on fire, and you don't need discipline to accomplish it. The public school system serves a tasteless gruel and disillusions many about what actual learning is about through hollow and meaningless problem solving. A rebellious high school dropout, Bach wages war with the public education system, until he realizes he doesn't need to be Discipline and meaningless hard work—not needed in James Bach's world. When you love what you do, you work hard naturally because it sets the curiosity of your mind on fire, and you don't need discipline to accomplish it. The public school system serves a tasteless gruel and disillusions many about what actual learning is about through hollow and meaningless problem solving. A rebellious high school dropout, Bach wages war with the public education system, until he realizes he doesn't need to be there and drops out. He later goes on to earn $35,000 a week as a Microsoft software engineer...without a high school diploma. I'm not sure encouraging people to drop out of school is flawless advice without some kind of self-education plan, but I like how this book champions free thinking and respect for your own authority and learning style. “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” ― Mark Twain

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michael Larsen

    First: a disclaimer; some people love James Bach, some people cannot stand James Bach, and many people fall somewhere in between. I happen to be a fan of his blunt and in-your face approach, and find the way that he writes to be both refreshing and unnerving (I like Larry Winget for the exact same reasons). James does not filter. He says what he thinks and lets the chips fall where they may. He is especially blunt about his criticism of the current school system and the reasons why he dropped ou First: a disclaimer; some people love James Bach, some people cannot stand James Bach, and many people fall somewhere in between. I happen to be a fan of his blunt and in-your face approach, and find the way that he writes to be both refreshing and unnerving (I like Larry Winget for the exact same reasons). James does not filter. He says what he thinks and lets the chips fall where they may. He is especially blunt about his criticism of the current school system and the reasons why he dropped out of high school. If this is the message you get from the book (i.e. drop out of school, it worked for me) you will be greatly missing the point of this book. Secrets of a Buccaneer Scholar tells James’ story of disillusionment with the school system and how it set him on the path to want to walk away from it. Much of the book shows that James’ concepts of Buccaneering developed over time; the way that the loosely associated bands of brigands and the precursors to the pirates of fiction were, in many ways, a societal model with a lot of parallels to the way we live and learn today. I found this idea fascinating. Here are some more of the ideas that form the core of the Buccaneer Scholar ideals (for all of them, I recommend picking up the book; these are the ones that resonated with me): View your education as lifelong; learn to educate yourself by scouting and using all of the resources available (books, web, podcasts, friends and colleagues). Look for and work on "authentic problems". You will be much more likely to be engaged on trying to solve problems that matter to you rather than those that fill a textbook, but have no bearing on your own life or interests. Find those things that interest you, that you find fun and enjoyable, and work with the way that you think. Be willing to experiment, and try things that may or may not pan out, and be open to that notion that what you follow may lead to a dead end (but you still learn from that experience). Explore a variety of methods of learning; don’t force yourself to try just one way (I will frequently read for or five books simultaneously on the same topic, just to see which one engages me better, and usually I find that different sections from different books work for me at different times). James likes using heuristics and anagrams for describing these heuristics. The idea is that, by building models and frameworks to try out ideas, you can use a disciplined approach to solving problems or addressing areas with a completeness and focus. In many ways, a passion for one thing will give you a framework for how to apply what you have learned to something else (Snowboarding and Scouting are common metaphors that I use in my day to day testing. My understanding and appreciation of the two disciplines have helped me frame situations and issues elsewhere). Learning without doing something with it is oftentimes pointless. Yes, it can be fun and a nice diversion, and shouldn’t be discounted entirely, but we mostly learn by doing, so roll up the sleeves and experiment, even if the experiment proves disastrous. Challenge the status quo. Be willing to look at things differently, and ask *why* something that is being taught is being taught. Question everything. Don’t let someone or some dogma stop you from trying to understand what is really happening. Your reputation is what will drive your career more than any diploma or certification you hold. Personally, I believe this to be true; the diploma will open some doors, but is not a guarantee of success. For many, after their first job, their diploma isn’t as valuable, and in many cases is totally irrelevant. Note, I have one, so I don’t see 100% eye to eye on this, but I know many engineers who do not have diplomas or degrees who have likewise done very well; their reputations are what carried them through. Being a part of a community that gives to others, and giving much of what you have learned to others will help to develop the network and opportunities to build your personal brand, and give you a change to grow in your area of expertise by helping others do the same (I wonder if Bach reads Seth Godin, as this idea is almost a direct parallel with what Godin writes about in Linchpin). Bottom Line: James Bach has forged an incredible life, one that many of us would love to emulate. His life story is fascinating, and the challenges he has faced have brought him to where he is today and the philosophy of learning he embraces. Will this fit for everyone? No, it requires a tremendous amount of drive and self-discipline and work to do what Bach is advocating (and he freely admits the same). Should kids in school today use "Secrets" as an excuse to chuck school and follow his lead? Again, no, I wouldn’t make such a blanket statement. There is much value to a formal education, and for many they can do very well in that environment, perhaps better than venturing out entirely on their own. What Bach advocates, the art of the Buccaneer Scholar, is that we all must take hold of our own educations, and work to do our best to make that approach a part of our everyday lives. Would I give Secrets to a kid in junior high or high school who is struggling with school? I might, but I would have to do so with heavy caveats (for some it may be the perfect advice, for others, it could prove disastrous). Would I recommend Secrets for those of us who want to remain lifelong learners and want to kick start our approach to getting in the groove to learn again? Absolutely.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Carla

    Ugh. I know Bach thanks to his lectures on Software Testing - an area where I worked for a time before deciding what I really wanted was to become a developer. Being a self-taught IT professional, I was interested in learning about his experience. The writing sounds so pretentious that I couldn't even finish the book. It was *boring*. Yes, I got it, if finding something interesting sounds like a good excuse to learn about it, but dammit I'm not interested in clams! So, yes. I can say this was a dis Ugh. I know Bach thanks to his lectures on Software Testing - an area where I worked for a time before deciding what I really wanted was to become a developer. Being a self-taught IT professional, I was interested in learning about his experience. The writing sounds so pretentious that I couldn't even finish the book. It was *boring*. Yes, I got it, if finding something interesting sounds like a good excuse to learn about it, but dammit I'm not interested in clams! So, yes. I can say this was a disappointing read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tori

    I found James Bach to be elitist and this book largely says that if you are motivated and intelligent, you don't have to follow any prescribed method of learning and you can just switch directions whenever you get bored. I appreciate his passion and enthusiasm, but I don't think my boss would like that plan. There were several sections that gave me meaningful ideas for self-reflection and appraisal. I will use some of his questioning methods to help my kids and coworkers look at problems differe I found James Bach to be elitist and this book largely says that if you are motivated and intelligent, you don't have to follow any prescribed method of learning and you can just switch directions whenever you get bored. I appreciate his passion and enthusiasm, but I don't think my boss would like that plan. There were several sections that gave me meaningful ideas for self-reflection and appraisal. I will use some of his questioning methods to help my kids and coworkers look at problems differently.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tarun Vangani

    If you are able to look past James's hate for the established education system this is the best book on learning. Despite going a top school I found that there are numerous good take-aways from this book. If you care more about the skills and knowledge over certificates and degrees this book can show you the way. Highly Recommended.

  21. 5 out of 5

    David

    I really enjoyed this book. One of the things that I took away from it is that there are different ways to learn. I felt some of the methods the author describes could work for me. I also enjoyed the list of heuristics he provides. I borrowed this book from work, but I'm thinking to buy it myself, so I can re-read it and annotate it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Parul

    One of the books which is difficult to put down as it feels like reading again & again till everything gets absorbed in mind. An insightful learning for someone who feels completely lost in their present skill building activity or in professional life and would like to start all over again. One of the books which is difficult to put down as it feels like reading again & again till everything gets absorbed in mind. An insightful learning for someone who feels completely lost in their present skill building activity or in professional life and would like to start all over again.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Amy Marley

    Sparked a reawakening of the love of learning for me. I know now it is a life long journey and one I am ecstatic to be on. Life can throw you on some deviations and all it takes is the right words and message to get you back on track. This should be standard reading in school.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Bush

    This is my second time reading this book. I loved it the first time, but this time not so much. I guess as I have grown and evolved, I have lost interest in this book. This time it just did not seem well written. The author seems to change ideas a lot. Could not make it through the book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Becca

    I didn't really like his advocacy for dropping out of school, but he had some good ideas for continuing your education throughout your life that were helpful.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Scott Griffiths

    Shorty but a goody

  27. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Fackler

    A book of inspiration.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I had assumed I would love this having been a homeschooler for 13 years. But no. Might have been a better read if he hadn't kept repeating his resume ad nauseam and complementing himself every other paragraph.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Anthony Deluca

    Buccaneer-Scholar By: James Marcus Bach Read: October 2009 Reviewed: November 2009 Copyright: 2009 Buccaneer-Scholar: How Self-Education and the Pursuit of Passion Can Lead to a Lifetime of Success is a book like no other book I have ever read. It is one man’s account of how traditional education is not optimal, and his form of education is more effective. He backs up his subjective claims with his own successful professional life. James Marcus Bach did not like school much. He acted on his dislike by Buccaneer-Scholar By: James Marcus Bach Read: October 2009 Reviewed: November 2009 Copyright: 2009 Buccaneer-Scholar: How Self-Education and the Pursuit of Passion Can Lead to a Lifetime of Success is a book like no other book I have ever read. It is one man’s account of how traditional education is not optimal, and his form of education is more effective. He backs up his subjective claims with his own successful professional life. James Marcus Bach did not like school much. He acted on his dislike by never conforming and eventually dropping out. He has made professional advances in his life by seeking out opportunities that interest him then pursuing that opportunity, even if he knows little about it and must learn “on the fly”. He has been consistently successful with this method. He will often stray into learning something not relevant to his present pursuit and views such practice as an excellent way to be educationally well-rounded. James breaks his method into eleven elements: Scouting Excessively, Authentic Problems, Cognitive Savvy, Knowledge Attracts Knowledge, Experimentation, Disposable Time, Stories, Contrasting Ideas, Other Minds, Words and Pictures, and Systems Thinking. The purpose for the title of this book is the analogy of his style of learning to the style of a Buccaneer, who tends to do things their own way. Although his methods are unique, and certainly often criticized, Bach sheds a different light on learning and advancement which is enlightening. I would not recommend allowing your teenager to read it, but in the hands of a mature adult it may prove to be worth the time.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Adriane Devries

    In Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar, James Bach delves into the processes that allowed him to enjoy a successful career as an IT consultant, public speaker and author, without the benefit of even a high school diploma. Through the school of hard knocks and life experience, combined with his own insatiable curiosity about how the world works, he learned all he ever needed to know along the way, mostly for free from the library and colleagues, using such methods as cyclical learning, procrastination In Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar, James Bach delves into the processes that allowed him to enjoy a successful career as an IT consultant, public speaker and author, without the benefit of even a high school diploma. Through the school of hard knocks and life experience, combined with his own insatiable curiosity about how the world works, he learned all he ever needed to know along the way, mostly for free from the library and colleagues, using such methods as cyclical learning, procrastination and brooding, trying and failing, and learning by accident, among many others. He has learned to allow his own brain the freedom to pursue its own interests, at its own speed, with only a little persistent prodding needed once in a while to meet deadlines. He purports that all learning leads to further learning when allowed the freedom to do so, creating an inner syllabus that will determine your course in life. To be a buccaneer, you must be hungry to plunder wisdom from whatever source you can, even school if it serves your purposes. Beware: if you do, you will no doubt be considered “dangerous” by the authorities. Above all, he considers intelligence to be merely a tool, not an end, and that all that truly matters is, awwwww, love.

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