A Focus on Masonic Research, News, and other Tidbits

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

We Don’t Need No Education

I am a huge supporter of Masonic education in the Lodge and – not meaning to brag – have been largely responsible for ensuring that some sort of educational segment is offered during every Communication of my Lodge save for those that pertain to work. At the same time, however, I have come to the realization that the formal Lodge meeting is NOT the place for Masonic education.

After the sounds of shock have subsided, let me explain. During a Communication, the time is limited and the educational subject is not going to interest all in attendance. A Lodge setting is just too formal to allow for deep educational discussions. Now, don’t get me wrong. I still advocate simple educational teasers in Lodge. We need those – but the real education is not going to happen in that atmosphere.

To be truly effective, education should be taking place in a more informal atmosphere. Study groups, face-to-face conversations between Brothers, and participation in research societies or research lodges are viable and potentially productive avenues of approach. The supporters of Masonic education should, in my opinion, be pushing these types of activities and cease in trying to force Lodges into formal education programs.

Credit for this short article goes to Nick and Fred. They sparked the idea - though I doubt thay had a clue that they did.


Masonic Traveler said...

I have to admit, I'm coming to the same conclusion. i do think that degrees should be worked on a stated, as its the rare time when you'll have the most brothers in attendance and make the best of the ceremony.

But this piece is spot on, who wants to add the extra hour of education on top of bills, communications, and business. The challenge is that the stated has becomes the big monthly meeting, and the rest dross to pick and choose to attend.

Frederic L. Milliken said...

I think that I have written 100 times in the last 4 years that the best way to do Masonic education is to form a Lodge study/research group and for it to meet outside a tyled Communication. That way those that are interested can participate and those that are not won't. Then this group can report its doings with a 10 minute review at a business meeting.

The second thing you will find in my writings is the call for a Masonic Library with some books that are recent as well as the old standards. These points have been made in the essays you will find at Phoenix Masonry.

Lastly in answer to Masonic Traveler..........I have been Master of two Lodges, one where everything was done at one meeting per month (and they never had a meeting without degree work) and the other where business and degree work were split, making two meetings per month.

Of the two ways of doing it, I preferred spliting into two meetings because only then was I able to offer some interesting programs and import some great speakers.

Lastly I have repeatedly called for most Lodge business to be decided by an Executive Committee meeting separately from the stated. When you can do this you make good use of a copy machine and hand out information - what bills were paid, Lodge coresspondence, and the previous minutes. Let Brothers read the business of the Lodge and if they have any questions they can ask them during the meeting.

Save the business meeting for big ticket items and discussions of where the Lodge is going plus allowing time for a good guest speaker and some good refreshemnt and eats.

The Millennial Freemason said...

Fred, you are very right about an executive committee. In fact, most volunteer organizations are run by steering committees. I am of the opinion, however, that education programs can be mixed into a meeting. Thanks PB, you gave me an idea for an post as well.


thwaak said...

Not being a Mason (yet) my knowledge on this is a bit fuzzy: It would seem the California GL mandated some kind of Masonic Education class for the Blue Lodges. So, once a month, for an entire meeting, the lodge holds a big study group outside the tyled area to debate and discuss a given topic as it relates to Masonry.

I've been fortunate enough to sit in on two of these so far, and they've been exceptionally enlightening, proving their worth, and well attended, showing that there is a desire for Masonic Education.

Vitruvius said...

Bug wrote:
> A Lodge setting is just too formal to allow for deep educational discussions. Now, don’t get me wrong. I still advocate simple educational teasers in Lodge. We need those – but the real education is not going to happen in that atmosphere.

It seems evident that we all agree on the increasing importance of offering more Masonic Eduction to both attract and retain new, and younger, members of the Craft.

The question then becomes how; what is the most effective implementation, or skilful means, by which to deliver such Masonic Education?

After reading this post, I find myself wondering about the difference between "educational teasers" and "real education". For my own lodge for example it would be a step forward to have just a *regular* addition of some form of Masonic Education, however much it might prove to be just a "teaser".

Silence Dogood has written an interesting piece recently on The Middle Chamber blog about the apparent need for a "culture change" viz a viz Masonic Eduction in Masonry, which I think provides very good food for thought along these lines.

The bottom line though is that while we recognize that different brothers come to lodge meetings for different reasons (food, brotherhood, education), there seems to be reason to assume that new recruits will be more likely to attend if *something* more than a business meeting and festive board are on the menu.

I submit that we need to start offering (if our lodge has not done so already) 'food for the mind and spirit' at every regular meeting if we want to retain those brothers curious enough to investigate Freemasonry in the first place. To cast a more religious analogy, what is a Mass without a good Sermon?


Justa Mason said...

"Good and wholesome instruction" is what the WM is supposed to provide, according to the ceremonies of some U.S. jurisdictions.

Isn't that what we call "Masonic education in a Lodge meeting"? Besides our degrees, isn't that the one thing we provide you cannot get anywhere else?

Why, then, say it's not something that should happen at a Lodge meeting?

I agree with Fred. Eliminate the boring stuff from the regular meeting; most of it can be handled in Committee with recommendations to the Lodge. And that means boring education, too. Have something compelling.

Part of our problem is guys get shoved into the East so quickly and have skipped so many chairs (and are in such a hurry to get there) they don't know what to say or do when they're up there. If I was given back all the time that I've spent watching a WM stop a meeting and whisper to someone else about what to do next, I swear I could add a couple of months to my life. Not only can they not provide "good and wholesome instruction" because they don't know how, they haven't been around long enough to know who can. The disorganisation leads to poor attendance, the Lodge has a shortage of officers, guys are shoved through quickly and the circle continues.


The Palmetto Bug said...

In case anyone is still checking on this post and its comments...

I am seeing an increase of interest in education in my Lodge and associated appendent bodies. A York Rite study group has just started up in my Lodge Hall and its creation had nothing to do with my efforts. It may come as a surprise to some, but the younger Masons are not the ones leading the educational charge - though I suspect the movement will spill over to the 20 somethings.

I see good things ahead.

Masonic Traveler said...

PB, you go quiet for a few days and then return that the whole world is on its head.

I'm glad to hear that there is an awakening underway.

The Palmetto Bug said...


Despite the words of the naysayers and the quasi-masons, Freemasonry is alive and well. I think it just took a little nap but is now waking back up.