A cursory glance at ringing in the Shropshire Association's area reveals that more ringers are needed at most towers. Many of our current ringers probably feel apprehensive at the thought of teaching beginners, and this of course makes it difficult to recruit learners with confidence.
This scenario is not unique to our area and a few years ago a movement began to try to address these issues. The result is the Association of Ringing Teachers and their Learning the Ropes scheme, the idea of which is to provide a structured scheme to learn bell-handling and the early stages of change-ringing, and to train sufficient teachers to deliver the scheme. If successful, it is hoped to make learning more effective and more fun, thereby increasing the chances of recruiting and retaining additional ringers. It is against this background that an ART bell-handling day course was run at Edgmond, tutored by Paul Lewis.
Eight potential teachers and three potential mentors attended the day, which comprised a sequence of (mercifully) short PowerPoint presentations, practical sessions in the tower, and the sharing of good practice and assorted horror stories. Refreshments were provided by some of the students, and lunch was taken at the local pub. The day course provided much food for thought for the potential teachers and should be the start of a process in which they are assigned a mentor and teach a recruit from scratch to the point where they can handle a bell safely and efficiently and are able to make a contribution to a tower in the area. It is good to see that ART provides much support in the form of publications and online material to make this as efficient and painless as possible for both teacher and learner.
Practical advice for teachers, right from the first lesson.