Welcome to The Learning Curve

We are delighted to have this monthly slot available to focus on matters of learning and training. We called it The Learning Curve because we feel that learning is the right place to focus, but we will also cover Training.

With a complex skill like ringing, no teacher, however good, can just ‘pour knowledge into’ a trainee. Our forbears who gave us the English language knew that. ‘Education’ comes fromthe latin and it means ‘drawing out’. You can only draw out what is there in embryonic form waiting to be developed. Any teacher knows itis easier to teach those who want to learn.Likewise the best teachers understand howpeople learn, as well as understanding theirsubject matter.In this page we hope to interest and helpmany people. Those of you we haveparticularly in mind are:

1 – ‘Developers’

You are progressing from being a (complete) beginner to a fully fledged ringer. You aremoving from being ‘taught’ to ‘not being taught’. You are beginning to take the initiative for your progress, which was initially with someone else. This is the time bad habits can creep inand possibly no one will tell you about them. Your attitudes to ringing in general are maturing. This is when you might either stop learning or develop lifelong learning habits. It. is perhaps the most critical phase of your ringing career, both in terms of quality and whether you remain a ringer.

2 – Teachers and supporters

Good teachers are crucial to the future health of ringing. Thousands of you routinely teach inyour own towers with great influence over the developing ringers in your charge. But perhaps no one taught you how to teach. Perhaps you are doing it because there is no one else. By’supporters’ we mean those of you who areexperienced but would not consider yourselves’teachers’. Developing ringers can learn a lotfrom you. In a healthy tower, you should all doa little to pass on your knowledge to others.

3 – Lifelong learners

However experienced you are, you can always learn something, so we hope to provide ideas for those of you who may not ‘need’ to learn, but whose ringing lives will be richer if from time to time you learn something new. We hope you will all feel you belong to one of these groups, and that this page is for you. Each month we will have one or two main articles. We hope to include contributions bothfrom eminent teachers of ringing, and fromothers whose learning experience is still fresh intheir minds. We hope you will find them all interesting.

We would like your feedback. Please let us know what you like and what you don’t, what topics you would like us to cover.

Raising and lowering in peal from scratch

We would like to raise and lower in peal more often, but most of our ringers have difficulty doing it. Whenever we try it usually ends up in a mess so people are not keen to take part. How can we get out of this vicious circle?

Many bands have this problem. What makes it worse is to know that other bands raise and lower in peal regularly, and even their less experienced ringers do it as naturally as ringing rounds. Why should some bands have all the luck?

Like so many things, raising and lowering in peal is easier to learn if everyone else can do it well. Where this happens everyone can learn as part of the normal process of becoming a ringer. It is a virtuous circle.

Otherwise, it takes a lot more effort. You will all need each other’s support, and you will need to change your routine. Here are some suggestions. If you have a large band, it might be best to start with a core group of you, bringing the rest in when the first group are up to speed.

Get help if you can

If none of you has experience of teachingraising and lowering, see if your local association can provide you with help. A mentor throughout would be ideal, as well as several stalwarts to help with practices.

Single bell work

You need to be able to handle your own bells up and down, reasonably tidily, without undue stress, and with some margin for control. If you are not sure about this, have a tied bell session together to practice. Help each other by spotting problems. It is easier to see someoneelse’s problems than your own.

Learn the principles first

There is more to it than just pulling the rope and letting out coils. There are two booklets onthe subject, with plenty of advice*.

Start small

Start by raising three bells in peal, then four and so on. This gives you more space to hear and see what is happening, and there are fewer of you in at once to put each other off with your mistakes.

Place the band

You need your best ringers on treble and tenor. Keep less steady ringers apart. If you can get expert helpers, the ideal line up on six is experts on 1, 2, 4, 6 and novices on 3, 5.

Give yourselves concentrated practice

One go a week is no way to learn anything, especially if it goes badly. Devote a whole practice to raising and lowering, or arrange a special extra one. That way you can have another go while the first experience is fresh in your mind. Repeat the special practices as long as you need them.

Consolidate

When your better ringers can do it reasonably well, take every opportunity to raise and lower in your normal ringing. When that is established, progressively bring in less experienced ringers so everyone contributes.

Persevere

It may take you a while to crack the problem, especially if you are all in the same boat. Give yourself time and keep at it. Once you can get into the virtuous circle, it is much easier to stay there, and much easier for your new ringers to join in too.