ISSUE 10, July 2004
John Pine: A sociable craftsman
Jumping for Joy: Skydiving for charity
Quarterly Communication: Speeches of: the Grand Master, the Pro Grand Master and, Report of the Board of General Purposes
Supreme Grand Chapter: Address of the First Grand Principal and Report of the Committee of General Purposes
Royal Arch: Cheshire gives a lead
  Walking with the greats: Bath Masonic Hall
Motoring in style: Classic Vehicle Club
Masonic education: A daily advancement and Events for your diary
Travel: Portugal
Library & Museum of Freemasonry
International: A warm welcome in Malta
Masonic ritual: Spoilt for choice
Public relations: Sheffield; Dorset; Chelsea Flower Show; Freemasons' Hall
Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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Masonic Education

A daily advancement

The need for both education and training of Masons is explained by Raymond Hollins

“better be ignorant of a matter, than half know it”
– Publilius Syrus 1st. Century BC

The making of a Freemason does not consist entirely of his progress through the various Degrees of the Order. Receiving these various degrees is in itself only the “Passport to Knowledge”. This can be described as the key to a continuing course of Masonic education.
     Whilst it may be accepted that it is an innermost desire, followed by obligations that makes one a member of the Craft, yet in a truer form and better sense, a man is never a Freemason until he truthfully and loyally lives up to his obligations.
     He cannot do that until he understands them, and eventually, following a Masonic programme of education, he learns to know their scope and real meaning.
     This cannot be properly achieved by sitting in Lodge listening to ceremonies or attending a Lodge of Instruction (LOI), where the objective is primarily devoted to improve the performance of the ritualist.
     The ritual does not make Masons – it only makes members. Ritual is fundamental to the Craft, and its preservation in its purest form is the life’s blood of our Fraternity, but it is not to be confused with Masonic education.
     Freemasonry may well be divided into many phases. Its tenets, history, traditions, landmarks, customs, symbolism and its allegories – even its Constitution and its laws – just to mention a few.
     If these subjects are studied and mastered they can provide a most interesting course for a Brother seeking the opportunity to gain Masonic knowledge, being quite apart from his rightful ambition to become a good ritualist. An educated Freemason needs to have accomplished both!
     To suggest that a satisfactory explanation of the Craft is complete with a study of the lectures of each degree is to bury one’s head in Masonic sand.
     A popular expression in the teaching profession proclaims that there can be no dedication without education. The search for knowledge goes on day after day.
     If we ask whether we need a Masonic education programme, the posture would be one of blank amazement followed by: “Well, we do have a LOI.”
     If we ask the same question to a few of our elderly and fairly senior brethren, whose involvement extends well beyond the Craft, the answer may be “NO” (on the mistaken belief that they have nothing to learn!)
     But be assured, that if any of the following circumstances apply – then the answer must be “YES”:

—Attendances have declined at meetings;
—Membership has declined due to resignations;
—Candidates are non-existent;
—Lodge programmes are uninspiring, dull and uninteresting;
—The Lodge is not considered to be a vital part of the community;
—Provincial Grand Lodge activities are sparsely attended;
—Prospects for the future survival of the Lodge is bleak.

Other factors can be added to this list. Each Lodge will be able to identify and determine where its own weaknesses lie. So we need an educational training programme – but how do we go about it?
     The answer, as with virtually all management problems, starts at the top – the Master. On his Installation, the Master is charged to manage his Lodge, and he is reminded of this at every meeting, at the opening of his Lodge:

“As the sun rises in the East to open and enliven the day, so the W.M is placed in the East to open the Lodge and to employ and instruct the Brethren in Freemasonry”

But does he?
     Every Lodge has members who, with proper encouragement and training, will be willing to take the time necessary to become a Masonic teacher, the Lodge educationalist. LOI Preceptors have proved this.
     However, to become such an expert requires training. There is no such thing as a born Masonic educationalist. In fact, it is time we started to train the trainers. It is regrettable that little or nothing in this regard is available and in place as part of a proper educational and training policy within our Constitution.
     One fundamental issue is that it is not essential to any concept of Masonic education that its possessor be a good ritualist. Masonic ritual has its own reward, and many find those rewards great. Our LOIs are full of Brethren who excel at the ritual.
     But what is a Masonic educational programme, how do we introduce it, and where can I find an example?