The Association of Ringing Teachers (ART) is the delivery and accreditation body for the ART Training Scheme and Learning the Ropes. It is a self-financing charity that has run well over 100 courses since it was formed in 2012. How and why has this happened?
The initial concept came from Pip Penney. Pip entered ringing as a ‘mature’ learner but quickly progressed in her local area of South Wales and became heavily involved with the acclaimed Kids.Ring.Out youth group. This often involved teaching and Pip’s background as a physiotherapist provided a useful understanding of how the body learns physical movements such as bell handling.
Pip’s motivation to create a teaching scheme started when two young ringers asked if she could teach them to teach bell handling. She soon realised that her new teachers would need more support than was currently available so, with characteristic enthusiasm, began to collect together notes on existing best practices, her knowledge of physical movement and university research. This included up to date knowledge in the fields of learning a skill, skill development and coaching theory. Pip and a working group of Peter Dale (then Chairman of the Central Council Education Committee) and Peter Bennett (Tower Warden at Newport Cathedral at the time) carefully selected and applied this research to ringing teaching.
At around the same time, the Ringing Foundation recognised that the aging profile of ringing and tower captains, in particular, (who are often the de-facto teachers) means that we need to tackle training and retention more urgently than ever.
In seeking to address this, the Ringing Foundation issued a brief for a new teacher training scheme. Pip applied to the Ringing Foundation and was awarded funding during 2010/11 to cover the cost of course materials and travel in order to develop and test a new scheme to offer to the Exercise. This became known as the Integrated Teacher Training Scheme (ITTS) - now known as the ART Training Scheme.
After researching skills development and coaching theory in other sports, activities and hobbies plus practical experience in understanding physical movement, the working group devised the structure of Module 1 – Teaching Bell Handling. With further funding from the Ringing Foundation, the scheme was then expanded to also offer Module 2 – Teaching Elementary Change Ringing.
Both Modules have the same structure and process:-
The ART approach is to break the stages of learning to ring into small steps that can be learnt progressively and practised until the body can complete the correct actions automatically. To do this, the scheme offers a number of techniques and activities from existing best practice in order to provide sufficient variety for the ringer. The approach and techniques are set out in the ‘Teaching Tips’ book, which is for sale from Central Council Publications.
Most concepts are not revolutionary and experienced teachers are likely to have seen many of them before. However when applied together with an understanding of skills development they provide a clear and structured process for new or less experienced teachers. These techniques can be easily incorporated with local practices depending on the facilities, helpers and experience that exist in your area.
The basis for these techniques and activities is set-out at the day course, which consists of a series of theory presentations and practical sessions. The ‘Teaching Tips’ book is supported by range of additional resources on a SmART Ringer learning website accessible to everyone who attends a day course. Further resources have now been developed, including DVDs and ‘toolboxes’ for teachers to use with their trainee ringers. These are available through the SmART Ringer website after attending a day course or are openly for sale to the ringing public through the ART Shop website.
Whilst ART received the backing of the Central Council in 2012, it requires acceptance from grass-roots ringers given the distributed nature of the exercise. It has therefore grown organically across the country, with varying levels of take-up across different areas. The introduction of the ART approach to a new area has been demand-led, with requests from local groups, branches, guilds and associations leading to new day courses being arranged in that area. Only with this local support, through both informal groups and official structures, has ART achieved its current usage.
If you are a new teacher or are looking for new ideas to develop your teaching, please join us for an ART day course. All upcoming day courses are shown on our website and you can book a place online, or request one in your area if none are nearby.