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
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
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
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?