HOW MILLENNIAL MASONS LEARN—MORE THAN JUST A LECTURE
An excerpt from Matt Nelson’s “educated and Seeking Further Light,” published in 41 Million Men—the
Importance of the Millennial Generation to Freemasonry, Macoy Publishing, 2018
The fact that Millennials may perceive themselves as duly and truly prepared does not mean that they are. But this is also true for lodges.The Craft’s rituals are designed to take a candidate through the initiatic experience so that that he may have a transformation, both figuratively and literally. In order to promote this transformation, the current culture of Masonry must understand that Millennials are different from preceding generations. They learn differently and work differently. For many Masons, the very thought of changing Masonic practice to meet the needs of a new generation may seem foreign. This skepticism is not new. Lodges have, over the years, staunchly resisted such innovations in the body of Masonry as electric lighting to replace gaslight, magic lanterns to replace the old Masonic carpets and charts, and PowerPoints to replace Kodak carousel slide projectors. So, while lodges (and grand lodges) may demand that the initiate conform to time-honored Masonic methods of learning, our failure to update our techniques and adapt to changing conditions will only produce the same results that our Craft has seen for the last sixty years: declining membership and falling participation. If Masonic education in lodge causes Millennials to disengage and reach for their smartphones, the problem lies with the lodge, not with the candidate. (Of course, this problem is by no means new: older members don’t reach for their smartphones when they are bored, they simply fall asleep!)
Millennials expect to be engaged in active learning; they are not passive or stand-on-the-sideline students. Millennials seek fast-paced learning and when the fraternity fails to present them with the information as quickly as they would like, these men tend to leave disappointed that what was promised was not delivered. This is not to suggest that the delivery of Masonic ritual through the three degree system should be altered; rather, within the confines of those degrees, we must engage the candidates effectively with their learning style in mind.
Here is where we meet a conundrum. Not all learning and growing is done quickly. The mysteries of Masonry can appear so mysterious, so secret, that many lodge members themselves do not take the time let them be revealed. However, those Masons who do understand that this process takes time also understand that it takes a great deal of work to find the answers. These wise Masons are critical to the future of the Millennials. Having consistent, clear programs that dispense Masonic knowledge in various ways is key to making good men better.
Passive learning has been the status quo for Freemasonry since its inception: most Masonic instruction is delivered in lecture fashion with a standing instructor and a seated initiate. A recent trend, however, is changing that practice. As of this writing, some jurisdictions are experimenting with more active ways of delivering the lectures, such as walking about the lodge room with the initiate while delivering the required work. In practice, when the lecturer wishes to teach the newly- made Mason about the West Gate, he physically walks with the new brother to that location while delivering the lecture, before moving on to another area of the lodge where more lessons are imparted. At the conclusion of the lecture, the candidate is returned to his seat in the lodge room.
Interested in more? You can purchase 41 Million Men by clicking here: 41 Million Men—the Importance of the Millennial Generation to Freemasonry