Although I have been ringing for a long time, 20-odd years, and have tutored on many courses including Stedman and Grandsire, I have done surprisingly little in the way of teaching bell handling itself. However, with Freshers week approaching at the University of York, this was likely to change. Whilst I have witnessed a great variety of teaching practices down the years, and pinched a few of these for myself. The prospect of being let loose with a brand new student and taking them from Muggle to Wizard, or the bellringing equivalent, was frankly nerve wracking. What if I got it wrong, or taught them badly, or allowed bad habits to develop? The prospect of the ART course, designed to teach the teacher, was the answer.
I didn’t quite know what to expect from the day, but it certainly lived up to be as intense and full-on, but fun and helpful as the packed programme suggested! Our tutor, Christine, was brilliant at explaining everything clearly and taking time to answer any questions or encourage discussion. The theory at the start of the day set out the groundwork, giving us an idea of what to expect, and allowing us to explore what makes a good teacher. As ever, communication is key. This was proceeded by two practical sessions on the tied bells at York Oratory, allowing us to put the theory into practice, and consolidate what we already knew. I had never considered teaching from bell down position, allowing the learner to develop backstrokes by ringing up. That’s one I will be using. The disaster recovery at the end of the day was fun but also extremely useful – recovering a lost rope, courtesy of a learner, can be frightening at the best of times, so practicing this useful skill today was invaluable for those who had not encountered it before.
I think it just leaves me to say a big thank you to Christine for her excellent tutelage, and my fellow students for being good sports, getting involved, and supporting each other. The York Colleges Guild contingent are looking forward to welcoming our freshers to the tower over the next couple of weeks, and commencing our teaching journeys.