Education Blog

When you first start ringing, it can be quite daunting. In some towers you might be the only learner in your age group - or even the only learner full stop! We feel that it's important to know that there are other learners out there - You can find them at the Rising Ringers and Progressing Ringers sessions. It's also good for more experienced ringers to know what a learner thinks as they go through the learning process.

As such, we are asking learners to help us by Blogging here about their experiences. Hopefully if you're a learner you'll be encouraged by the posts here - and if you're a teacher, you'll find insight that will help your students.

 As the third of Tony's mature learners I'd echo all that's already been written. The whole experience of learning some of the mysteries of bellringing has been made all the more enjoyable by the continued encouragement and support he's given us. Yes, we got mixed up and yes, we took a long time to get to where we are now, but we'd rather get it right from the start and avoid picking up bad habits. 

I think all 3 of us can now identify when we make mistakes and can correct them more readily without having to be told quite as much. 
Still a way to go, but in true TV talent show parlance, "we've been on a journey"....and I for one have really enjoyed the trip. Gill.
I totally agree with Helen...
Being on the "other side of 50" is not easy learning a new subject . We don't "soak things up" as we did all those years ago as hard as we try and yet I never felt undermined. 
Learning with other "mature" learners was perfect as we supported and encouraged each other.
It was interesting how we all learnt too..I for one had to know exactly what the bell was doing and needed to have it explained to me..
We had a cardboard cut-out bell with string as an example and when Tony explained I was Ok..
Others learning didn't need to know.
Tony always reminded us of where we were 4 weeks ago, 8 weeks ago and now 6 months ago!....Yes its taken me that long and I don't care and neither does Tony.
I know that I got to where I am in my own learning time and way...Slow but sure,confident and safe.
Just as importantly we have fun learning, yes we take the safety aspect serious but it is a very sociable hobby and one that I hope I can grow with...
I am looking forward to the next phase!!!
Thank you Tony for your patience and confidence building..

Learners Blog Bell date 18th August 2013


Well now I've managed to locate my user name and password. ( my work IT guys updated my computer and lost my log in,) I seem to have so many passwords these days I have to really think which numbers fit where, ( a bit like bell ringing) Its not hard to confuse me!!

I can update the blog.

Anyway, its been a great couple of weeks until today where I really messed up for our Ratby service ring on plain hunting. It helps when you know you must follow bell four but you are actually following bell three which is in the normal position of the fourth bell.

I know, I know, places not bells!!  ( must stop thinking about numbers)

The guild meeting at Wigston Magna on 26th July was good for me. Lovely bells which are really managable for learners and lots of help from experienced ringers.

On saturday 3rd August, the Narborough ringers invited me on a Tower tour to Northamptonshire.

we went to Guilsborough, St Ethelreda. Good history lesson about the witch trails there, as well as excellent ringing on 6 bells.

St Helens at Thornby on 5, the ropes were very long and I spent most of the time hitting myself with the tail end.

Then the Infamous St Denys at Cold Ashby. For those of you who have never been there, 6 bells. For the tenor you have to stand on the stairs. for the treble you have to stand at an angle to avoid the stairs and on the 5th there is a board to go over some steps which you can still fall down if you have a tendancy to step back. ( I didn't try this bell as those of you who know me, know I have a tendancy to back off from the rope)

The 4th is said to be the oldest ringable bell in the country or maybe the world. Cast in 1314.

We had an excellent day with a lovely cream tea to finish. many thanks to Tony Mann who kept us on track.

I am still trying to master the art of rope sight and have been watching some of the DVDs to gain some tips.

Yesterday Saturday 17th I went to All saints at Thedingworth with Ryan, Paul and Heather. It was great to see so many familiar faces. Thanks to Roland Cook who organised us  to ensure everybody got an opportunity to ring at their own level with the appropriate help. Roland is the inspiration of the month for all the time he puts in to helping learners and for his patience and encouragement. I mostly managed a touch of Gransire, with minimal help so I was quite pleased with that.

Ryan and I finished the day at St Lukes at Gadsby. It was hard to adjust to the lighter bells after the heavy bells at Thedingworth, but again a well attended event with lots of friendly ringers just willing you on to improve.

Today I am sitting on the naughty step for making a fundemental error for our service ring and will resolve to do better next time.


Learning The Ropes

Reflections on Level 1 Bell Handling and Control

Well Tony – you asked for it – how DO your 3 ‘mature learners’ (sorry ladies) feel about their progress on the ART Learning The Ropes Programme and your teaching?

Perhaps one of the first things to say is that, quite correctly, I don’t think that Tony will be surprised by any of my feedback and that’s just how it should be. We freely and openly discuss how we are feeling about our progress – our literal and metaphorical ‘ups and downs’ – and, most importantly, we are reassured that this is a steep learning curve which we can climb at our own pace.

My concerns that I have taken up yet another hour of Tony’s valuable time to merely recover from my 2 week holiday or to restore my confidence following a ‘near disastrous’ session are generally met with encouragement and reminders of how far I have come from that day when I thought that all was involved was the ability to tug on a rope every now and then: Who is this Sally who needs handling firmly? Why can’t I look up and see what’s going on? What ‘other’ stroke?

And even as a mature learner, or perhaps because I am a mature learner, and it’s a long time since I learned a new skill, I confess I secretly look back through my student record and give myself a little pat on the back as I see what I have achieved and how I am progressing through this well structured Programme.

Of course, none of our sessions are ‘disastrous’ or even ‘nearly disastrous’. Safety is key but we have not been subjected to Tales of Death and Destruction or Poems about Poisoning by Pigeon Poo. Instead the Programme and Teaching focuses on risk and safety awareness and, critically, how to keep out of and get out of trouble.

Did I mention I’m a mature learner and that my teenage daughters think my decision to learn is all part and parcel of my mid-life crisis? Well because of this, I think my teacher’s concern with safety and his patience and motivating feedback has been important to me. Unlike a young child I do see the risks and unlike a younger learner I no longer soak everything up like a sponge and absorb it for future reference. My newfound knowledge and learning does go in but in smaller bits, and it takes longer to go in and longer to retrieve.

Knowing that I’m learning in a safe environment helps me to concentrate on what I need to learn and practise in each session. For example, at the moment I can focus on putting my backstroke and handstroke together safe in the knowledge that when I miss the handstroke a safe pair of hands will appear and help me out. This said, I know that this can’t go on and, critically, I know why I can’t miss it, because we reflect on this. Not in a philosophical navel gazing way – that’s not my style and I don’t have time for that – but in a way that suits my learning style and helps the proverbial penny to drop. When it finally does - usually in the shower about 2 days later - I use the Programme’s learning resources to help to consolidate my knowledge and we discuss this at the next session.

With my ART teacher’s support I feel that I have reached a critical stage in my bell handling. I’m proud to say that I am no longer unconsciously incompetent. I am now consciously incompetent. Apparently this is a critical stage – make or break – the point at which, in the past, experienced ringers have seen new recruits decide it’s all too much.

For me, it doesn’t seem like this. The LTR modules clearly describe the size, shape and colour of the "elephant" and break it down into bite sized pieces and I know that with the continued support of Tony and Co. I will progress. Of course, I’m not prepared to put any timescales on this. Indeed, I am becoming quite adept at dealing with the inevitable ‘surely you can ring by now?’ ‘not another lesson? ‘– mainly from the uninitiated and my kids.

I simply remind them that it has taken me many decades to get this far and to decide to learn and so I have to learn to ring well, correctly and safely first time around; I don’t have decades to undo bad habits.

I do wonder how I would be feeling now if I had decided to learn without the support of the LTR Programme and my ART Teacher. I am no longer the ‘activist learner’ I used to be and a ‘sink or swim’ approach doesn’t have the appeal it used to. I’m more of a ‘pragmatist-reflector’ now - happy to learn from my mistakes – and let’s face it there are plenty to learn from – but this will only work for me if I have the confidence to make mistakes in a safe and controlled environment and to ‘practise’ in my ‘practice sessions’.

Question: So how DO your 3 ‘mature learners’ feel about their progress and your teaching?

Answer: Delighted to have reached the dizzy heights of conscious incompetence and reassured to be in the safe and experienced hands of an ART teacher and mentor.

THANK YOU for your patience and your time.