Book Review: Entry Points: A Guide to Rudolf Steiner's 'Study of Man' December 08 2017

Entry Points Entry Points: A Study Guide to Rudolf Steiner’s Study of Man
(Waldorf Publications, ISBN #978-1-943582-19-8, 156 pages, 6 x 9 inches)

In 2003-2004, when eBooks were launched, before any test marketing or forethought, and eBook readers were “the new best thing” with Nooks and Kindles competing for the “best Christmas present of the year,” the word was that books were a thing of the past. Books were so “yesterday.” But books are holding steady. Maybe it is because reading a book holds an 85% comprehension and retention rate while reading eBooks (any screens, really), comprehension drops to 34% on average.

It could be, though, that books offer more abundant opportunities to develop a relationship with a story or idea, while eBooks are a tad more abstract. There is something less human about an eBook. A book demands engagement, sensory participation. The touch and feel and smell of paper, the sound of turning pages (difficult to simulate electronically) — the engagement of human senses changes everything; evokes interest, develops a relationship with the book and its offerings, and makes it memorable.

In other words, it offers more entry points for this relationship’s development. We commit more readily to the book.  We open more easily when senses are active.  Brain research demonstrates that more of the brain is activated when senses are activated which cannot happen “virtually.”

Rudolf Steiner’s book, The Study of Man, or in a recent edition, Foundations of Human Experience, has baffled readers for almost 100 years. Given as lectures to the first teachers in the first Waldorf school just before its opening in 1919, reading them deprives us of the activity of watching an enthusiast like Rudolf Steiner give a live lecture.  By his admission, after a year of the school’s operating, Steiner tried to encourage the teachers to work a little more effectively to think differently about education. The teachers chosen for the mission of the first Waldorf school were all above average, all accomplished adults. Imagine our own struggles at this distance of time with our limit of contemporary education, distracted culture, and differences of points of view in trying to crack the meaning and essence of these highly esoteric and unique lectures on an entirely different and revolutionary way to think of child development and education. The blossoming of interest in Waldorf education around the globe is not always accompanied by the deep understanding of the underlying philosophy and approach as outlined in the seminal lectures!

The Pedagogical Section Council of North America (PSC) stepped in to help in comprehension with a brilliantly conceived and well-written little book called Entry Points. This group of experienced teachers, recognized for their capacity as teachers and as students of the philosophical underpinnings of Waldorf education, went lecture by lecture and created approaches to understanding these challenging and beautiful lectures with practical examples, questions for study, helpful footnotes, and encouragement to think as clearly as possible about the concepts in each lecture being offered.

This is a “must-have and must-read” for every Waldorf teacher, a helpful mentor-in-a-book for all Waldorf faculty, and a great book for those interested in a deeper understanding of Waldorf education.  It offers, entry points galore; thinking, feeling, and willing examples that do engage, do build relationships and do hone our senses to achieve comprehension and retention!