As the newly appointed District Grand Mentor I thought it made sense to make use of the Ashlar Newsletter as well other available means of communication within the District so as to reach out to all our members within the District so to get the word out on the goals and objectives of the District Grand Lodge of the Eastern Archipelago Mentoring Programme.
Before doing so I must first thank my predecessor W. Bro. Darren Deskler for his valuable work in laying down a solid and formative platform for me to build on.
To our Lodge Mentors
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My first topic for this issue of the Ashlar is titled
Let’s begin by differentiating between Masonic Mentoring, Masonic Education and Masonic Research. These are 3 very distinct and different aspects of Masonic Education: very briefly,
Mentoring: The purview of individual lodges; overseeing the formative years of each new mason; and reintroducing the Joy of masonry to brethren who maybe facing declining interest. This is mostly an operational issue; ensuring that there is a reliable support group within each Lodge; based on a ‘non prescriptive syllabus’. The most effective Mentoring Programmes should have elements of Adult Education; like a CME programme. After all; most Masons are already at the peak of their professions.
Education: Usually structured materials, the contents of which are reviewed or written by senior content experts; usually in the form of booklets, lectures, workshops etc; specifically, for Masons to advance their knowledge.
Research: These allow Masons opportunity to present personal work based on systemic investigation into, and the study of materials and sources to establish facts and reach new conclusions or forwarding new views.
Back to our topic at hand, Masonic Mentoring
The purpose of a Mentoring Programme is to help the new initiate quickly absorb the cultural and social norms of our Fraternity by providing a high level of personal and personalized support for each Candidate.
It is designed to help him as he begins to lift the veils of allegory while navigating the mysteries and protocols he quickly encounters within the Fraternity. We feel that with such support he can start at the very unset of his Masonic career to enjoy being a Freemason, begin to understand the principles of the Craft, while building up his confidence so he happily becomes involved in his Lodge and all its activities as fully as possible.
In simple terms Mentoring is a formal or informal relationship established between an experienced, knowledgeable Freemason and an inexperienced or new Mason. DISTRICT MENTORING ORGANIZATION
The District MENTOR
The role of the District Mentoring is pivotal to the success of the mentoring initiative within the lodges comprising his District.
His role is to support the District mentoring system, by: Assisting Lodges to implement mentoring
Providing advice and guidance to Lodge Mentors (coordinators) and Personal Mentors
Organizing training workshops and encouraging mentors to attend
Listening to Lodges’ experiences
Measuring the effectiveness of the mentoring system in his District
Working with the District Grand Master to monitor all mentoring activities within his District
His report will depend upon the amount of information requested by the Grand Lodge but should include the following information:
Number and names of Lodges actively employing mentoring within the District
How many Lodge Mentors and Personal Mentors there are within the District
Training and workshops sponsored or attended within the last year
Feedback received on such activities
Best practices identified
Notable successes to be celebrated
Improvements identified for the next year
THE LODGE MENTOR
It is the responsibility of every Lodge to look after and care for its members, and all Lodges are encouraged to ensure that a Personal Mentor is appointed for every candidate.
In short, the role of the Lodge Mentor is to:
Implement the mentoring system in the Lodge
Appoint a Lodge Mentor who ensures applicants receive a fitting introduction to Masonry
Assigns each Apprentice a suitable Personal Mentor
Tracks the progress of the mentoring system in his Lodge
Liaisons with the District Coordinator and sister Lodge Mentors
Willingly takes on the role for a number of years
The Lodge Mentor must have a pool of Personal Mentors whom he will have trained in anticipation of an applicant for Freemasonry.
He will also arrange for the Entered Apprentices or Fellow Crafts to be coached while they are out of the Lodge room during a higher degree ceremony.
Let’s not forget that Classes of Instruction (COI) achieve a lot in terms of helping Brethren learn about Freemasonry and feeling included.
The Lodge Mentor has a vital role to play as it is his responsibility to ensure that the mentoring process is not only implemented, but that it also works effectively in his Lodge. To do so, he needs to:
Be fully aware of the mentoring process, what it is trying to achieve and what ‘success looks like.’
Make sure that all Lodge members are aware of mentoring and what benefits it will bring to their Lodge.
Ensure that Personal Mentors fully understand the aims and objectives of mentoring.
Ensure that Personal Mentors attend available training courses or workshops.
Match the right Personal Mentor to the candidate. This will of course vary according to the size of Lodge membership and the availability of suitable mentors. It would be helpful to be involved at the early stages of a candidate’s application to the Lodge, such as by serving on the Committee of Inquiry.
Remember not to disregard the Proposer or Seconder, as they may be best able to full fill this role.
Take time to ensure the candidate and his Personal Mentor form a good initial relationship. Do they sit together both in Lodge meetings and dinners, and at social events? Is there a good relationship between them and the Proposer and Seconder?
Report findings to the Lodge; the Lodge Mentor should be given an opportunity to give his annual report in open Lodge.
THE PERSONAL MENTOR AND THE MENTEE
There must be a special relationship between the new Mason and his Personal Mentor.
This is a one-to-one relationship
The concept of a “Lodge Mentor” for all candidates is not the best way forward.
In many cases the obvious choice for a Personal Mentor might be the candidate’s Proposer or Seconder.
Where this is not possible, they should be consulted on the choice of someone else.
Whatever the decision, the Personal Mentor should be carefully chosen and have particular qualities.
It has been observed many times that the greatest difficulty in this personal support program is to find suitable mentors.
Let us talk more on the very important role of Personal Mentor
The key person within the whole mentoring process.
It is the Personal Mentor who imparts his knowledge, spends time with the candidate, and guides and supports him throughout his initial Masonic journey.
By helping his Apprentice to correctly take his first crucial steps in Masonry, the Personal Mentor will be guiding him on a path that will change his life, and the lives of those around him, for the better.
The responsibilities of a Personal Mentor are great, but his role is also, in many ways, an easy and enjoyable one.
Mentoring is not rocket science. It is simply a process of spending time with and caring for a candidate, exposing him to information in a controlled manner, i.e. in small understandable chunks that he can easily digest, while making sure he starts to understand what is happening around him.
Once he has this basic knowledge, your role will then change from ‘teacher’ to ‘mentor.’
This may involve some elements of counselling, acting as a confidential advisor and being a role model. These are all things you have done successfully many times before, but you thought of it as friendship.
By its very nature, this role will involve continuous review, as the Personal Mentor and his Apprentice will be meeting on a regular basis to review progress.
It is the responsibility of the Personal Mentor to give feedback to the Lodge Mentor.
This will include how the mentoring relationship is progressing with the candidate and will contain such points as:
How often do they meet?
Have they met after each of the degree ceremonies?
Does the candidate make any positive/negative comments about any aspects of the Craft?
Has the new Mason taken part in any ritual or shown interest in doing so?
What are the Apprentice’s interests in Masonry and how are they being pursued?
What recognizable skills does the candidate have that may be useful to the Lodge in the future, i.e. a head for figures (treasurer), compassion (widows or visiting committees)? Is the new Mason visiting other Lodges?
Does he attend social events? The Personal Mentor will have plenty of support from both the Lodge Mentor and the rest of the Brethren, for it is in everyone’s interest that he is successful as a mentor.
You may know of mentors in other Lodges and, if so, it will be good to speak with them from time to time, to exchange ideas and best practices. Look out for any training opportunities and workshops
Ideally, the Personal Mentor should be formally reintroduced to his Apprentice in open Lodge at the end of the initiation ceremony to congratulate the new Mason and to welcome him into the Lodge.
This process would then be repeated after the Fellow Craft and Master Mason Degrees.
Characteristics of a Personal Lodge Mentor
A successful Personal Lodge Mentor should be:
Interested in being a Mentor.
A person with stimulating ideas.
Someone interested in discussing the ideas of others.
Someone with skills to exchange.
Supportive of change - personal, institutional, educational.
Able to adapt to change in time to influence and control future developments.
Able and willing to give time to the relationship to allow it to develop.
Ready to share concerns with other Mentors.
Open, inspiring trust and confidentiality.
Encouraging, helping Candidates to value their own work and development.
Focused in approach, sharing clear aims, goals or objectives.
Deserving respect, but not demanding respect
Knowledgeable, but not overbearing or pedantic.
Please use this Mentors Corner to report on your lodge Mentoring activities too; we need to learn from the successful programmes implemented in Lodges.
In summary, the Masonic Mentoring scheme is a
of masonic values for Brethren.
(compiled from a variety of sources; mostly from the Mentoring Handbook 2007, with contributions from W Bro Louis Ruehlmann )