Nine trainee teachers braved the debris left on the road by Storm Arwen to meet at Stoke Climsland Church to learn how to teach beginner bell ringers to cope with the rope – albeit one where the bells were clapper-tied out of courtesy to the neighbours and those attending the jumble sale in the Old School Community Resource Centre over the road.
I was here to support Jinny, who started learning to ring at the beginning of 2019. I introduced myself, saying, “I’ve been learning for twenty five years”, and I wasn’t lying. Although I’ve been to this course, led by Les Boyce, twice before, I still came away having learned something. As a relative novice, Jinny is still only too aware of the potential difficulties that this activity presents; somewhat akin to catching a live rat in a barrel whilst doing mental arithmetic in a multigym.
It was a well-planned day, with an introduction to the reasoning behind ART, and lots of practical exercises. Videos of how to teach and spot mistakes, followed by a rather ‘forgetful’ pupil who had come back to ringing with a bucket full of handling problems added to the fun and giggles.
We were pleased to discover that there was a proven method for teaching this skill and by applying this technique in stages throughout the day with a mixture of theory and practical sessions, our role-playing ‘learners’ mastered the art of ringing very quickly and were able to progress from, ‘this is a bell rope’, to ringing a bell up and down safely with assistance in a matter of hours – it was almost as if they had done it before. The day concluded with an interesting discussion on how best to manage common handling problems in ringers who were resistant to changing their technique.
Judy and Barbara from Stoke Climsland plied us with tea, coffee and excellent cakes, and prepared lunch for us consisting of delicious hot pasties from the local Post Office. We are indebted to the local ringers from Stoke Climsland for allowing us to play all day on their lovely ring of 8 bells.
There was a wide variety of experience in the tower, all with the same desire to improve our teaching skills. We all left feeling much more secure, and having made new friends, and feeling very grateful to Leslie and Sheila for putting the course on for us. We thank them for a most enjoyable day and for their support and enthusiasm in potentiating this ancient and inimitable art.
Comments from other delegates:
“A very interesting day, thank you – just the right amount of information to encourage us to go back to our tower and recruit some new ringers (although I still have a lot to learn). Thanks for a most enjoyable day.”
“Exceeded my expectations. Very worthwhile day. Am keen to try out techniques and will result in us retaining more learners. Think regardless of personal ability everyone can get something out of this course.”
“What a great day! I’ve never taught bell handling before, have seen a lot of it taught – but never like this! I’m a really cautious ringer, but even I felt comfortable with the practical activities and feel confident about being able to put them into practice. A really full and fun training day, thank you so much!”