On Saturday 29th June, I attended a one-day Module 1 course: Teaching Bell Handling, through the ART Teacher Training Scheme. This session was specifically organised for young ringers in the Oxford Diocesan Guild, with 7 attendees from Year 9 through to university, alongside some additional helpers. I was the only Oxford University Society representative due to an unfortunate mismatch with term dates.
The session was motivated by the understanding that in order to secure the future of ringing, we must engage the younger generation. Practical sessions were held on the 10 at St Helen's in Abingdon with theory sessions in the nearby parish centre. The practical sessions showcased some interesting techniques for teaching specific aspects I saw for the first time, though testing them out with both left- and one-handed ringers presented unexpected challenges! These ranged from fielding wayward ropes to exercises for dealing with specific idiosyncrasies. The theory sessions discussed various teaching philosophies and constructively drew on ideas from coaching in other skills, such as canoeing, cycling, and cricket.
The session was organised by Susan Read, and presented by Pip Penney. Lunch comprised no less than four varieties of sliders with matched toppings and accompaniments, and a crunchy apricot slice to finish - many thanks to Susan for all her hard work in preparing this. The standard order of events for such a course was complicated by an afternoon wedding, for which we rang a musical touch of Grandsire Triples; the bride was only 20 minutes late, which didn't disrupt the day too much and gave us more time with our desserts!
I personally chose to attend because most of my teaching experience has been only as a short term substitute, so I thought I would benefit from the long term progress arc and the structure and support that ART provides. My own handling issues, including a persistent "floating hand", also led to a lack of confidence in teaching handling, but this was somewhat resolved in the practical sessions, culminating in a demonstration of effective prompting.
I look forward to completing the rest of the module, with online resources and a teaching logbook to tap into, with support from my ART mentor, and a final assessment to become accredited.
Practical advice for teachers, right from the first lesson.