On a freezing November day, four Lithgow ringers were joined by others from Sydney, Bathurst and Orange along with tutors from Katoomba, WA and Queensland. This was for an ART course - not a drawing or painting course (the paint would have frozen anyway) but the Association of Ringing Teachers course to learn about teaching bell handling and elementary change ringing.
Lithgow Uniting Church kindly allowed us to use the Parish Hall with its great facilities for the weekend with ANZAB and participants providing a donation. Whilst the hall was being set, warmed up and others found coffee, some Lithgow ringers prepared 4 bells with muffles, completed by getting dusty and freezing their fingers off…thanks to Katoomba for the loan of the tyres, we are now making our own for next time!
The locals stood out in the unseasonal weather, with slightly less clothes on than the WA, Qld and Sydney visitors!
Kathi Downs, Corinne Rule and David Smith gave a great introduction, explaining the day’s programme and amazingly for day long training kept the whole weekend to time, even down to the pub visit at the end of each day! Very professional.
Sessions alternated between theory and practical, so avoiding monotony either through death by too much PowerPoint or freezing during the practical. The three tutors took turns running and presenting sessions which again was a great plan, as they each had very different styles, but never boring. They worked very well together in the practical sessions, which concentrated on hands-on demonstration and practice and even kept us awake after lunch!
Practical sessions allowed everyone to try teaching each stroke and introduced useful exercises to promote correct handling. Only one stay got broken (quickly replaced by Greg from the spares we have just in case!)
Day 2 was warmer! This day was teaching elementary change ringing and running a practice. Kathi had organised the day around service ringing and the morning tea with two Lithgow ringers holding a BBQ lunch. These ringers also sat in on a couple of theory and practical sessions and interestingly, with neither being teachers nor running practices, they commented on how much they got out of watching those sessions.
Again, the sessions were alternating practical and theory between the three tutors.
Both days had participants with a huge range of experience, from just starting out teaching handling and occasionally running a practice, to Tower Captains and long-term teachers. This was well managed by the tutors. Discussion, ideas and questions were welcomed and debated.
Everyone got something out of the two days including some things to practise personally, some good ideas to take back and work with learners in our own towers and some different ways of doing things.We all coped with the interesting challenge of ringing with the tail in the right hand, with a teacher standing by, giving some insight into how a learner must feel the first time they pull off!
Overall, longer practical sessions on day 2 would have been appreciated, but just wouldn’t fit in.
They were two very long, but enjoyable days, helped I’m sure, by a few people reducing my wine stocks in the evenings!
For me, attending the course as a slight sceptic because I have been teaching learners for many years, I was very impressed with the course. I found the two days interesting, useful and fun, and I learned a few tips and several new exercises to use and improve my teaching and moving Lithgow ringers forward. I also had the confirmation that much of what I have been doing is along the lines of the ART guidelines. The formal use of the booklets as progress markers is something that will help everyone. The content and resources are great, but also the way the three tutors presented it and promoted the flexible learning concepts and guidelines, made for interesting and inclusive sessions for all levels. Like Deryn Griffiths said in her article on the ART course she attended, I would recommend it to anyone who teaches, regardless of experience.
Thanks to Lithgow Uniting Church for allowing us to host the course and to Kathi, Corinne and David for organising and presenting a great 2-day course.