I’m writing this a day after ringing the treble to Plain Hunt on 5 for the first time at Service ringing. I’m in no way an expert at ringing and probably never will be. But in my 30 months of ringing I’ve experienced and been tutored by brilliant teaching by a local Ringing Master called Dave* and have witnessed appalling and dangerous teaching along the way too. I’m at a point in my ringing where I feel that I would like to be more involved in passing on my hard-won lessons in learning basic handling but never felt confident about supporting new learners. In essence, I want to be more Dave. I know I can’t be more Dave on my own though and this is where the ART Teaching Bell Handling module gives me the structure and order that I need as a person and as a tutor.
The day course took us ten ringers through a mixed programme of well-paced and relevant presentations in the church hall and sessions on the silenced bells in the easily accessed ringing chamber of St. John’s, New Alresford, Hampshire.
The handling sessions followed a demonstration and copy in pairs format . With two ringers per rope , the component parts of bell handling, including raising and lowering , were broken down into separate teaching points and practiced , face to face , eye-ball to eye-ball, adult to adult with feedback and improvement increasing throughout the day.
However many times you hear phrases such as ‘hold the tail end like this..’, or ‘long pull now…’, ‘catch higher up the sally..’ , there is nothing like hearing the sound of your own voice saying it to someone else. The view from the teacher’s side of the rope is very, very different. Teaching the basics to the capable is, once you get over the initial awkwardness, hugely rewarding. Sharing control of a bell feels strange to begin with but part of the purpose of the course is to familiarise ourselves with all the oddness of being the ‘other side of the rope’. A very safe way to experience these emotions and work through them so that, when facing a complete beginner, it is not a complete surprise.
The one-to-one work in the Tower I was expecting. What completely took my breath away was the supporting ART materials. The course demonstrated and allowed me to experience a logical teaching progression in practice, but behind this are the materials for the tutor and also, importantly, for the learner. With two sides to every beginner’s rope we cannot forget what the learner’s journey is like. With my course pack I received some really nicely produced books emphasising the detail and structure of teaching and learning in the ART scheme. It is, after all, a scheme. An order of work. An interpretation of how the basics can be taught in a loosely formal way so that progress can be logged by both tutor and learner, the fundamentals not overlooked and achievement recorded and celebrated.
Dave doesn’t need ART to teach. I know that I do. ART lets me be more Dave. I’m ok with that. What I lack in instinctive teaching ability I gain in structure and with it, confidence. And projecting confidence is essential in communicating new knowledge and developing a sustained and rewarding tutor/student relationship.
Since participating in the M1 Course Teaching Basic Handling I’ve been more confident as a ringer in my own right, and more willing to step in and speak up with advice and support. We’re all different. Delivering teaching through the ART scheme may not suit every tutor or every learner. But thanks to ART I have the option of being more Dave.
*Dave isn’t his real name….
Wonston Tower, Winchester District