How Can Masonic Education Be Furthered?


How Can Masonic Education Be Furthered?
Four Points of View
MASONIC CRAFTSMAN - 1937



A PERSONAL PROBLEM
By Alfred H. Moorhouse


MASONIC education can be made of real value only by its
application to the ordinary processes of living.

As a premise to any intelligent consideration of this subject it
is necessary to know of just what Masonic education
consists, and we take it to be of the essence of the matter
that an education in Freemasonry connotes an intelligent
appreciation of the moral dogma embraced in the lessons of
the three degrees - these being the base of Craft understanding.

Throughout the ritual lessons are taught by word and symbol
which make it abundantly clear that the Craft stands for a
high type of living, foregoing common vices, building up
clean standards and marking its votaries as separate from
their fellows, in adherence to the essential proprieties
governing human contacts.

Impressions made during childhood are indelible. Those of
later life retain their value only as the mind is imprinted by a
logical appeal to reason.

In the working of the degrees no intelligent man can fail to
note that account has been taken of the frailty of human
nature and, while recognizing this very important factor,
there is portrayed a picture of moral standards which must
appeal to his better nature. The man who profits by this
portrayal and guides his actions by it, may be said to be
Masonically educated.

Life is a fleeting thing - and all too often the truth of this is not
realized soon enough, yet men to whom the advantages of a
Masonic education have come will find opportunity in
innumerable ways to apply their knowledge to the advantage
of society. To list these would be impossible, but within the
three principal tenets: friendship, morality and brotherly love,
is a field sufficiently broad to cover most contingencies.

Masonry is what its members make it. Not alone in the
lodgeroom, but in the everyday contacts of man to man the
application of those principles so ardently, intelligently and
beautifully inculcated in the lessons of the ritual give
opportunity of unlimited scope, and the man possessing
Masonic knowledge need not be coached as to its particular
application. Within him a knowledge of Craft principles and a
sincere desire to be of service to his fellows - inside and
outside the Craft - are inherent qualities of sterling worth. If
and when he can put aside the selfishness inherent to
human life and look objectively at the misfortunes affecting
others, he will, and he is so moved, do much to relieve
misfortune and misery, and by so doing add his trite to the
suet of human Charity. Small as its effect may seem, none
tire less the cumulative effect of millions of like-minded men
can and will raise to a higher level the thoughts of millions
and thereby increase their happiness.


TEACH THEM TO THINK
By J.A. Fetterly


OUR question for discussion this month admits of a wide
range of speculation. For a better comprehension of its
possibilities, let us change its wording somewhat to "how can
any education - Masonic or Secular - be made of real value."
At once the speculative nature of the subject becomes
apparent.

The question in its broader aspect has been the subject for
discussion and argument for more than a century and no
satisfactory answer has ever been found. No one will
maintain that the aim of secular education is merely to train
the pupil to add 2 and 2 or to recognize certain marks or
letters and with these to form words and sentences. Much
the same is true of Masonic education. The member will
receive little benefit from the facts of Masonic history, the
meaning of its symbolism, on the logic of its philosophy
unless, at the same time the learner is inspired to apply
those facts, those meanings and that logic to the circum-
stances of his own every-day life, the conditions of his own
existence.

As we see it, the aim of all education should be - not to
impart certain facts, theories and teachings - but to lead the
pupil to think for himself. Once this is accomplished, he will
apply the facts, theories and teachings, and thus gradually
develop a philosophy of his own that will develop as his own
mental capacity develops and expands.

Any education that stimulates individual thinking and mental
activity is good. Masonic education that leads the Craftsman
to a better understanding and comprehension of
Freemasonry is of value, both to the student and to Society
as a whole. That which fails of this is as sounding brass and
tinkling symbols.



NO REAL SOLUTION IN SIGHT
By Jos. E. Morcombe



"HOW Can Masonic Education be Furthered?" This our topic
for the month has been discussed for years in many grand
lodges, and has given rise to much experimentation. Yet
thus far there has been no satisfactory answer. Nor have
any of the methods tried proven of any great value as raising
the general level of Craft knowledge. There has been in no
case a clear exposition of what is necessary to be done, and
the theorists have been left to work their own sweet will.

It is requisite to raise the question as to what constitutes the
truly educated Mason. The answers thereto would be many,
ranging all the way from a kindergarten equivalent to
post-graduate specialization. Yet as we see the matter,
Masonic education to be effective must pre-suppose a
foundation already laid of a general knowledge, for only
upon such foundation can any special studies be based.
One thus trained would have acquaintance with the history
and development of philosophical systems and religious
organizations, these being moral and spiritual forces. Such
knowledge would give light needed to illuminate his own
institution, as a similar factor in the economy of civilization.
The necessary restrictions under which official Masonry
operates would be made clear. For such a brother there
would be no rule-of-thumb working or mere guessing to take
the place of reason. Mistakes or errors of judgment could be
checked upon, and injurious methods or unwise
management be put in process of correction. For it would be
recognized from broadest survey that all organizations are
subject to the unvarying laws of associated being.

There is no grand lodge nor group of Masonic students that
could hope to provide for such advanced work. Intellectual
fitness and thought habits would closely limit to a very few
those competent to carry on such work with hope of attaining
the goal as set. There are, it is true, brothers who are
pursuing such studies, but it is for theirs a labor of love, and
they work alone. These we must regard as post-graduates,
who having gained all this is possible from Masonic history
or teachings, are specializing in matters closely related but
essential, if comprehensive vision is sought.

It is on the other hand, of common experience that Masons,
considered generally, are not greatly concerned in this
matter of Education, be it high or low. Nor have the efforts of
grand lodges, again speaking generally, been of a character
to break down the natural resistance of non-studious men
when asked to assume the status of learners. We have a
splendid body of men in our lodges. They are mightily
concerned for the welfare of the Craft, but are shown no way
in which they can practically work for its advancement.
Instinctively they turn from the fine-spun schemes of the
educative theorists. Being gifted with common sense they
are aware that much thus offered is without utility. To them
must be brought a sufficient knowledge of Masonic purposes
and its mission as a factor of social sanity in a bewildered
world. For these men the elaborate curriculum will fall of its
own weight; the study clubs rarely survive an initial
enthusiasm. The plain program of practical work, well within
the average capabilities, is what is needed. With this pro-
vided there will be no further complaints of the apathy or
indifference of the brothers. Space will not permit any
discussion of ways and means; these will present
themselves to any who may seriously set out to provide a
workable program, acceptable to plain Brother John Smith.
And he is the fellow who will count when strength and
support for an endangered Masonry is needed. Reach him,
in mind and soul, and Masonry will be secure. Continue to
feed him with the husks of formalism, and he will die
Masonically of inanition. With his going the dissolution of the
Craft will not be lung delayed.




DEPENDS ON THE INDIVIDUAL
By William C. Rapp



TO devise an efficient method of Masonic education,
necessarily involving instruction and study, is a difficult
problem. It has been attempted by various  grand lodges and
voluntary groups, many of which are still engaged in the ac-
tivity, while others have yielded to discouragement because
of apparently inadequate results. Lacking the ability to offer
concrete suggestion as to how Masonic education can be
made of real value, the writer must confine himself to
generalities and random opinions.

That Masonic education has valve is beyond dispute, but it is
entirely dependent upon the inclination of the individual to
acquire it. The greatest "sales resistance" encountered by
any plan for imparting knowledge of the institution is the
indifference of the brethren. There is but a small percentage
of the  total number of members who have any desire to be-
come familiar with anything more than the fundamentals of
the fraternity. Most of them have scant interest in the history,
philosophy, traditions or symbolism of the Craft, and are
content to maintain their Masonry for the pleasure and
companionship derived from association with fellow
members, the opportunity to  witness or take part in the
conferring of degrees, and an instinctive realization that they
are a part of an ancient and honorable institution which
merits and enjoys the respect and admiration of upright men.

Official systems of instruction are handicapped by the fact
that the primary student and the advanced scholar require
different courses; that which is acceptable to one class is of
little value to the other. Such systems have the advantage of
competent leadership as a rule, even though they are
sometimes too erudite for the capacity of the beginner.
Nevertheless, much good is accomplished, for there are
many brethren who need but a little encouragement to get
started in a course of self-instruction which may lead to
unexpected heights.

Voluntary groups organized for study are probably more
successful, due to the fact that they are composed of
brethren who are really in search of more light and feel that
they are engaged in a co-operative work for mutual
advantage.

The study of everything in connection with Freemasonry is
intensely fascinating to those whose mentality, inclination
and time permit them to engage in it. Few will attempt to
absorb or retain in their memory all details of what they
learn, realising that it is more important to know where
precise information may be obtained than to burden the mind
with a mass of information. For this purpose recourse to
standard books on Masonry is necessary. There are many
brethren who need only a taste to develop an appetite for
study, and for this reason it is quite within the province of
grand lodges to give assistance and encouragement to
those who are willing to learn. That the time will ever come
when practically all members of the fraternity will acquire a
"Masonic education" is exceedingly improbable, but the
opportunity to do so should be available for those who seek
it.