Together we make a profound difference

BEST PRACTICE: Masonic education

HOW-TO: Expand Masonic ed

Countdown to Public Schools Month

Public Schools Month Resource

Changes to applicant character investigations

Resources

A treasure of American Masonry

Question of the month

_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________

BEST PRACTICE: Masonic education

Throughout the fraternity, education is a priority. Palm Springs Lodge No. 693 proves why.

The lodge started monthly Masonic ed classes in 2010. The response from members, as well as the public, was a teacher’s dream. Applications began an upward trajectory that shows no signs of plateauing.

Cesar Rubio, past master and the lodge’s current director of education, explains:

Background

In 2010 we started offering a monthly Masonic education class for members only. The first few months, only five or six members showed. Then they asked if they could bring their friends. Once we opened up to the public, the program took off. Now, classes are usually packed with 30 to 35 people.

Framework

  • Explorations: We call the classes “Explorations in Masonry.” Our focus is on educating members in a way that’s fun.
  • Frequency: When we started, we held class on the last Friday of every month. Now that the program is established within our lodge and community, we are scaling back to one class per quarter. We have more time for research, so we can delve even deeper into the topics at hand.
  • Length: I aim for about 45 minutes of presentation, and allow another 15 minutes for breaks. But many times, when I try to wrap up after an hour, the audience asks me to keep going.
  • Leaders: In past years, I was the sole researcher and presenter. Beginning this year, I have two assistants. I coached both through their degrees.
  • Format: The classes are structured as lectures. I talk to the crowd. I walk around. I try to elicit responses and get students involved. This creates an incredible dynamic; we all learn from each other.
  • Tools: Once or twice, I’ve used an easel to draw symbols or write down important dates. I will usually also pass out a class agenda, for those who like to take notes. Other than these tools, we rely on verbal dialogue.
  • Guided by Grand Lodge: I used Grand Lodge’s candidate training and educational materials as our blueprint. For example, the Entered Apprentice Guide was the foundation of the first classes. Then we branched out.

The students

  • Advertising:Most people find the classes by word of mouth. Members bring their friends. We also publicize on our website and in the local newspaper.
  • Non-Masons: Because so many non-Masons attend, I start each class by asking how everyone heard about the class, what they already know about Masonry, and what they’re hoping to learn.
  • Masons: To make members feel comfortable, I make the start of class feel much like the opening of lodge.
  • Prospects: We encourage prospects to come to lodge several times before we give them an application. Many attend three classes before they apply.
  • Regulars: Many attendees – Masons and non-Masons – come back class after class. Some take notes.
  • Key demographic: The program has drawn in millennials: the Generation Y crowd that’s always online and who have stumbled across all the Masonic conspiracy theories. We held a two-part class on the Illuminati, and it was filled with 18-year-olds.

The feedback

  • Membership development: We receive new applications on a monthly basis.
  • Membership experience: The classes make our member base stronger. Members can talk about Freemasonry intelligently to Masons and non-Masons alike. They enjoy helping me research and may present future classes. The shared learning experience helps members stay engaged and connected.
  • Demand for education: I remember teaching one of my first classes. The crowd was so quiet, I worried I was doing something wrong. Then I realized: They weren’t bored. They were captivated.

The advice

  • Come prepared: Make sure you have a solid library of research to draw upon before you start scheduling classes. Outline your topics several classes in advance. Be sure you’ll have enough time and source material to prepare properly.
  • Create a team: Class prep is time-consuming. The more brothers you have to help, the better. Remember: Candidates can be valuable research assistants, too.
  • Focus: Get familiar with the Grand Lodge Masonic education programs first. Then find your lodge’s own niche. This will help you organize your curriculum, and keep lodge members coming back for more. Even if you focus on one theme, you’ll naturally spill into other areas of Masonic education.

Benjamin Franklin and all the brightest minds of Masonry joined because they thought they could learn something. We’re here to learn, too.

For more information, contact Cesar Rubio or Master Luther Wood Jr.

[Back to Top]

 

____________________________________________________________

HOW-TO: Expand Masonic ed

Education is a strategic priority for the fraternity, and a central responsibility of any Masonic lodge. And a strong Masonic ed program must evolve and grow to meet the needs of members.

Here are 16 ways to expand yours.

  • Choose an angle. Delve deepest into the topics members care most about: To start, survey members to ask what they’re most curious about. Then create a lecture series under that theme.
  • Solicit volunteers. Seek out members of all degree levels to present on topics that they feel passionate about. If you send a survey, include a place for members to indicate their interest in helping with the Masonic ed program.
  • Experiment with different formants.
    • 10-minute talks
    • Open forum discussions
    • Breakout groups for sharing research projects
    • Presentations by outside speakers
    • Movie or book club
    • Masonic ed “drop-in” hours at lodge, with one or two coaches on hand
    • Collaborative research project
    • Organize group trips to Masonic ed programs at other lodges
  • Establish time at stated meetings. Set aside time at the beginning or end of stated meetings for lodge members to share their research or to briefly discuss a Masonic education topic.
  • Try inviting – or not inviting – the public. See which topics and discussions take off with different demographics.
  • Create a suggestions box. Ask members to recommend topics for the next Masonic education event.
  • Put it in print. Ask Masonic ed presenters to draft a short blurb of their topic, and publish it in the lodge Trestleboard.
  • Share materials. If presenters distribute an agenda or any background materials, post these documents online for all members to view.

If you don’t already have a Masonic ed program, or want to completely overhaul an existing program, check out this HOW-TO article on creating something from scratch.

Have we forgotten something? Email suggestions to communications@freemason.org with How-To: Expand Masonic ed in the subject line.

[Back to Top]

 

____________________________________________________________

Countdown to Public Schools Month

For nearly a century, our fraternity has demonstrated a commitment to public education by observing Public Schools Month.

Throughout April, California lodges will renew that commitment by planning special celebrations in support of local public schools.

Here’s a checklist to keep your plans on schedule.

Already completed

  • Form a Public Schools Month committee
  • Establish an event budget
  • Assign event responsibilities (program, refreshments, publicity)
  • Identify and invite one or more community speakers, such as a local educator, librarian, or student

This month

  • Finalize speaker(s)
  • Finalize refreshments and other program details
  • Run Trestleboard ad with event date, time, and details
  • Publicize on lodge calendar, website, and Facebook page
  • Publicize in local media
  • Invite neighboring lodges
  • Invite community organizations and local dignitaries
  • Prepare Trestleboard article for April
  • Determine transportation for elder members, if needed

At the event

  • Announce that April is Public Schools Month
  • Give a brief history of Masonry and public schools
  • Explain the fraternity’s project, Raising A Reader, and provide a way to donate
  • Introduce guest speakers

In addition to hosting an event at the lodge, consider organizing a group of members to attend a Public Schools Month kickoff celebration.

[Back to Top]

 

____________________________________________________________

Public Schools Month Resource

In 1920, Masons from throughout our state stepped forward for a common cause: the first Public Schools Week. Today, to continue to make a profound difference for California public education, lodges must once again demonstrate statewide support.

Use this ad to encourage your members and families to join in celebrating public schools this April.

Public Schools Month ad

Publish in your Trestleboard, and print out and post at the lodge.

[Back to Top]

 

____________________________________________________________

Changes to character investigations

To enhance the experience of both applicants and those who evaluate their petitions, Grand Lodge is rolling out new character investigation materials. These materials were reviewed at the 2013 Secretary and Treasurer Retreats, and many lodge leaders have already participated in training webinars.

New resources

  • Applicant Character Investigation Form (redesigned): For masters, secretaries, and investigators. Guides the candidate interview and provides easy reporting.
  • Guide to the Applicant Character Investigation: For masters, secretaries, and investigators. Profiles the characteristics and duties of investigators, and outlines the eight-step process.
  • Character Investigators’ Guide: Explains new steps in conducting character investigations, including using the Guide to the Applicant Character Investigation, above.
  • Conducting the Applicant Character Investigation: This new document provides a helpful and easy to read summary of the updated character investigation process.

Training for leaders

  • An archived webinar, available this month, is recommended for inspectors, assistant grand lecturers, masters, secretaries, and assistant secretaries who were unable to participate in live training webinars.
  • Investigators should watch the new training video, available later this month in the Member Center under Resources and Publications.
  • Additional training sessions will be provided this month at the Master and Wardens Retreats.

All forms, resources, and training materials are online. Log into the Member Center on freemason.org, then Resources and Publications.

[Back to Top]

 

____________________________________________________________

Resources

By partnering with Masonic Assistance, you can make sure your fraternal family knows where to turn when they need support. This section is designed to help.

Past issues of The Leader have supplied readers with several resources related to the Masonic Homes of California (MHC) and Masonic Outreach Services (MOS); from basic informational flyers to PowerPoint presentations that include step-by-step instructions for connecting fraternal family members with support. This month, the Masonic Assistance staff shares a guide that provides lodge leaders with practical tips for partnering with MHC and MOS.

This month: Partnering with MHC and MOS

View and share this guide with fellow officers or print and save it as a reference.

[Back to Top]

 

____________________________________________________________

A treasure of American Masonry

Later this year, the Masonic Service Association of North America (MSANA) will begin the release of a complete collection of its renowned publication, Short Talk Bulletins.

Short Talk Bulletins, a monthly publication issued by MSANA since 1923 and the most widely distributed Masonic publication in the world, provides subscribers with a wide array of informational and educational topics, such as Masonic history, symbolism, philosophy, and biography.

The first of five projected volumes will be available in two, hard-cover editions beginning in the fall of 2013. For more information, or to pre-order a copy, visit msana.com.

[Back to Top]

 

____________________________________________________________

Question of the month

Last month we asked if your lodge supports public education. Of the 100 who responded:

89% - Yes
8% - No
3% - Don't know

Among those who said yes, 48 percent host a Public Schools Month event. The next most popular forms of support are donating money for supplies or other school needs; fundraising for Raising A Reader; and scholarships.

Here’s your next question.

 

 

 

 

View past issues


Please email questions to communications@freemason.org.

Contact Us

Grand Lodge of California
1111 California Street
San Francisco, CA 94108

p: (415) 776-7000

e: memberservices@freemason.org