Lodge of Instruction (also known for short a LoI) isn’t where you go to learn your Masonic Ritual, it’s where you go to rehearse it!
Many times I’ve seen (and I think we are all guilty of this when we start!) a Master Mason attending Lodge of Instruction is reading their Ritual from the Blue Book. Simply turning up and reading from the book is pointless, you’d might as well stay at home and do that.
But isn’t Lodge of Instruction where you go to learn? Well, yes… And, no.
It’s perfectly fine to take your Ritual book into Lodge of Instruction – unlike into actual Lodge where that would be frowned upon. However, the Ritual book shouldn’t be relied on, but used as a tool to prompt and remind the user.
As someone once said to me, you learn the the black ink at home, you come to Lodge of Instruction to learn the red ink. By this he meant the ‘stage’ directions and how the written words come together into an actually ceremony with interaction between the various offices, the candidate and of course the floor work.
Simply turning out to Lodge of Instruction once a month and reading out of a book will not make you learn the Ritual.
However, if you’ve been putting in the effort at home to learn the Ritual you’ll be performing in advance it can work wonders. At first you’ll make mistake, no one expects people to be perfect at Lodge of Instruction, if everyone was there would be no point having it. It is, however, a safe place for you to make mistakes in. It’s where the knowledge and tips of experienced Freemasons are handed down to younger Master Masons taking their first offices.
Regularly a Lodge of Instruction is interupted by someone keen to pass their knowledge on. For example, a prospective Deacon may be learning the words of the office from their ritual book, but describing the methods of moving the candidates from west to east is something best taught visually. Not just the actions, but where to stand to get the right spacings. Also, the perambulations and interactions with Wardens and Master are easier to learn when going through it with others.
We all have memory lapses – especially when learning new material – and having the book to hand is useful. Occasionally a person may read from the book to speed the ceremony along, but this isn’t to be a regular occurrence.
It is generally considered it better that someone attempts what they’ve been learning without the book and be wrong, rather than read from the book and be right. As mentioned, Lodge of Instruction is where you go to make mistake, and humans learn from their mistakes; so make your mistake there so you don’t make them in the actual Lodge meeting.