How I Learned is an autobiography that began in a series of blog posts on Shamus' blog Twenty Sided. It is the story of one boy who struggled through the education system because it didn't understand him.
From the preface to the book:
If you ever sat in a classroom and felt like the entire system seemed absurd, foreign, frustrating, or tiresome, then you will probably see some of yourself in this book. If you love learning but hate school, this book will speak to you. If your grades were far out of line with your intelligence or abilities, or if you perplexed the people who tried to teach you, then this book might help you understand why.
Shamus Young found his passion and calling at an early age. From the first time he saw a computer he knew that he wanted to understand them, speak their language, and manipulate their output. Yet even though he knew what drove his motivation and interest, there seemed to be one huge obstacle eternally in his way- school.
This book was not written to vilify public school or make a case against formal education. It does make some much needed points about the ability of a standardized system to accommodate those that just don't fit in.
I really enjoyed reading this book. At times the programming jargon went over my head, but the meaning was not lost. At the age when most people were still trying to figure out what a computer was, Shamus was writing code and creating programs. Everything he learned about computers he taught himself. It was funny to read about the dawning of the computer age through the eyes of an often awkward teen that was more advanced than his teachers.
Is it any wonder that Shamus and his wife Heather have chosen to unschool their children? The last chapter in the book is a must-read for anyone mildly interested in homeschooling, unschooling, or alternative forms of education. He sums up his experiences with a magnificent appeal for independent learning:
The process [learning] itself can be deeply satisfying, and when applied the gained knowledge can give us a better future. All of this is crucial to our existence as human beings, and all of it has very little to do with sitting at desks and filling out worksheets.
The perspective this book gives towards education, towards computers, and towards life is well worth the time spent reading it.
You can get a copy of How I Learned through Smashwords or from the Amazon links below.