English Touring Opera have officially announced that their opera for children in Spring 2015 will be 'Shackleton's Cat'. It will be a retelling (with some licence) of the great story of the James Caird and the rescue of the men on Elephant Island.
Sir Ernest Shackleton may be a legend for the courageous way he rescued all his men from certain death in the icy Antarctic, but he is not yet a household name in all junior - or even senior - schools.
That may be about to change, thanks to the fact that the small boat the James Caird in which Shackleton and five men risked their lives by sailing across 800 miles of the most terrible seas in the world to fetch help for his party, still exists. The James Caird is based at Dulwich College, which was Shackleton's old school in South London, and anyone, yes anyone, can go and visit it.
That especially applies to schoolchildren, thanks to an initiative by Mrs. Calista Lucy, who as Archivist at Dulwich College has special responsibility for Shackleton's remarkable boat, which is displayed in the College's spacious North Cloister.
Children from many parts of London have already been amazed and astonished by the story of the precious boat, and afterwards talk about little else, especially as Shackleton's fascinating exploits and cramped and terrifying boat journey are recalled in a talk by Calista specially designed for schools.
Calista tells of waves almost 100 ft. high, ice that cracks under your feet, pulling sledges across treacherous icy terrain, and of life on a remote polar island with almost no hope of rescue. Not surprisingly, children are very impressed by the hardship Shackleton's men suffered, and by their amazing bravery. There are other artefacts: Shackleton's sledge can be seen on the wall, and a polar uniform such as perhaps he would have worn; and can try on mittens - fingerless gloves designed to preserve heat. Just being in the presence of such a famous boat is a hugely exciting experience.
One recent young visitor writes in response to his recent visit: "I was so excited and thrilled to see this iconic Antarctic boat. If you don’t know Shackleton’s tale I recommend you to do so. What an amazing thing to have in your school! You would learn more by staring at that boat, and thinking of Shackleton’s story, than in a year of classroom lessons!'
Would you like to see the James Caird and learn about Ernest Shackleton? Could you show the bravery that Shackleton and his men did? Get your teacher to contact Calista at firstname.lastname@example.org
It may prove a dream come true!
The website Teachingexpertise.com has devised a number of assemblies for Primary Schools, and one of these is especially designed to tell the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton's Endurance expedition in a way that makes it accessible and fascinating for Primary School pupils.
The site draws attention to a number of pictures on the web suitable to illustrate the Endurance story.
The story of the ship's sinking, the men's escape from the ice, the voyage of the James Caird, the mountain crossing on South Georgia and the rescue of the 22 men is all told in detail and in a way that brings the saga alive for young children.
The story ends with a very appropriate prayer.
Other stories of heroic feats can also be found on the same website, including that of Sir Vivian Fuchs's Transantarctic crossing in 1957, which completed the journey Ernest Shackleton had hoped to make.
Resources on the web giving a vivid account of Sir Ernest Shackleton's life, leadership and achievements continue to emerge.
One useful one to note for schools is that found in the 'Academic Kids' encyclopedia, which helpfully draws together and makes available material from a wide range of sources.
The site also offers LINKS to a wide range of other information for Shackleton fans.
The story of Ernest Shackleton is one of the most gripping tales ever told.
Here it is retold in a strikingly well-written narrative lasting just a little over 5 and a half minutes.
Visit the link below to hear his story, beautifully illustrated with a sequence of striking and well-chosen still photographs.
You can also read comments on the video. One response runs 'As a huge admirer of Sir Ernest Shackleton, I thought this video was great, despite the slightly halting commentary, which was neverless precise and to the point, covering the most important features of his story. The illustrations used were inspired.'
To accompany the new exhibition in Liverpool of Hurley's extraordinary photographs, Endurance - Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure, running from the widely acclaimed one man theatre show 'Tom Crean's Story' offers the chance to find out out more about the incredible tale behind them.
Ideal for younger and older Shackleton enthusiasts alike, and a particularly entertaining and gripping introduction for children of school age, 'Tom, Crean's Story' will be staged in the first floor performance space of the Merseyside Maritime Museum.
The dates and times of performance run through October and November 2010 into December, and will be as follows:
Sunday 3 October 1.30, 2.30 and 3.30pm
Saturday 9 October 1.30, 2.30 and 3.30pm
Saturday 16 October 1.30, 2.30 and 3.30pm
Saturday 23 October 1.30, 2.30 and 3.30pm
Wednesday 27 October 1.30, 2.30 and 3.30pm
Saturday 30 October 1.30, 2.30 and 3.30pm
Saturday 6 November 1.30, 2.30 and 3.30pm
Monday 8 November 1.30, 2.30 and 3.30pm
Saturday 13 November 1.30, 2.30 and 3.30pm
Saturday 20 November 1.30, 2.30 and 3.30pm
Saturday 27 November 1.30, 2.30 and 3.30pm
Saturday 4 December 1.30, 2.30 and 3.30pm
Saturday 11 December 2010 1.30, 2.30 and 3.30pm
Not to be missed!
Two most enjoyable (and thoroughly well-informed) short quizzes on Shackleton's life and the story of the Endurance expedition, as well as a range of other 'explorers' quizzes, can be found at the imaginative 'Playquiz' website.
Some of the questions you may answer with ease: one or two are designed to catch you out.
Test your knowledge of the 1914-1916 saga and see how your final score compares.
How many dogs did Sir Ernest Shackleton take with him on his Endurance expedition? Were they faithful companions? And why did he take them?
Shackleton's plan was to be the first, with just a handful of his men to cross the entire continent of Antarctica. For this, he needed furry friends - in fact he took 54 - to draw the sledges carrying all-important supplies, and sometimes men.
Frank Hurley, Shackleton's photographer, gives some idea of how valuable the dogs were to the men: 'How dreary the frozen captivity of the ice, but for the dogs,' he wrote.
The 54 sturdy and eager dogs, whose average weight was 85 lb., were divided into 6 teams of eight or moret, looked after by five expedition members: the two expedition doctors, Dr. Macklin, and Dr. McIlroy, who kept them in fine fettle; the painter George Marston; second officer Tom Crean; the deputy leader Frank Wild; and the amazing photographer Frank Hurley.
Several dogs died - perhaps as many as 15 - at the isle of South Georgia or before the expedition set out; but there were some new ones! Six puppies were born to two of the dogs, Sue and Sally (four of her cute, tiny pups appear in a famous picture of big-hearted expedition member Tom Crean, from Ireland.
Other Endurance dogs included Samson (he was easily the biggest!), four- year-old Shakespeare (nicknamed 'Tatcho'), Bob (ow 'owd [old] Bob', Shakespeare's brother), Jasper (the heaviest at 132 lb.), Lupoid ('wolf-like' because of his ears), Soldier (red in colour, a mix of bloodhound and wolf.Frank Wild sings places. Many times, he says, 'I have taken the team out seven or eight miles, then given the order "Home, Soldier" and have actually gone to sleep on the sledge and wakened to find myself alongside the ship!'
There was also Sailor (he was a weeny bit idle, Hurley tells us), Sally and her four pups (named Roger, Nell, Toby and Nelson), and Sue and her two pups (sadly only two survived from her litter of 11). Two 'older' pups are mentioned, one called Grus (Dr. Macklin recalls) and another called Sirius. Sir Ernest Shackleton claims that he named a dog after each 'of the Public Schools of England and Scotland (that) helped to purchase the dog teams': perhaps a slightly exaggerated claim, But he also mentions more than ten dogs: Amundsen, Con, Hercules, Nigger, Oscar, Peter (Hurley, an Australian, called him 'Bony Peter'), Pinkey, Pompey, Snapper and Towzer. Frank Worsley, the Endurance's skipper, also mentions Steamer and Satan. For a time Satan was the pack leader.
The website Endurance Obituaries goes further: it records the names of 66 dogs - out of a total of 69 (perhaps some died on the way out). Their names include over a dozen of those mentioned above and below, but omit several.
Included are Bob, Bo'sun, Bummer, Gruss, Hercules, Jasper, Lupoid, Sailor, Saint, Sally, Samson, Satan, Shakespeare, Snapper, Soldier, Sue and Wolf. The list of the other dogs reads: Alti, Amundsen, Blackie, Bristol, Brownie, Buller, Caruso, Chips, Dismal, Elliott, Fluff, Hackenschmidt, Gruss, Jamie, Jerry, Judge, Luke, Mack, Martin, Mercury, Noel, Paddy, Roger (puppy), Roy, Rufus, Rugby, Sadie, Sammy, Sandy, Side Lights, Simian, Slippery Neck, Slobbers, Snowball, Snowball, Songster, Sooty, Spider, Split Lip, Sporty, Steamer, Steward Stumps, Sub, Swanker, Sweep, Tim, Upton and Wallaby.
Several of these were named after members of the crew. McIlroy's team leader was Wolf. Hurley's was Shakespeare. Dr. Macklin had Bo'sun as his. Tom Crean's team was led by Surly; Marston's by Steamer (not listed above); and lastly, Soldier was the leader of Frank Wild's team.
Two others mentioned by Hurley appear to be Endurance dogs: (as well as Bummer), Colonel and Saint.
Sadly the sinking of Shackleton's ship and the abandoning of the Transantarctic crossing was to spell the end for the dogs. When the party escaped from the ice, a very dangerous, freezing journey in three boats, the dogs who had been such faithful friends - in their kennels on board deck, on walks and sledge journeys, and playing on the ice - had to be put down. So did the ship's cat, Mrs. Chippy, who belonged to the hardworking carpenter. Everyone was desperately sad and upset - but it had to be done.
All the expedition members had different memories of different dogs. It is nice that we still have pictures of some of them, climbing off the ship, sitting patiently as the Endurance fin ally breaks up and sinks, or playing around with members of the ship's company. To the men, the dogs had been trusted companions, and they retained fond memories of these much-loved friends.
One of the most lively and useful sites for school students wanting to learn about Antarctica, about the great explorers (not just Shackleton) who went there, their ships and their crews, is 'Cool Antarctica' (www.coolantarctica.com).
A lot of trouble has been taken to put painstakingly researched detail onto this site. There is a huge number of really good photographs, and also a lot of information about the various expeditions.
There are also some fascinating 'questions and answers' giving interesting facts about Antarctica and its very cold climate.
The website of the Natural History Museum in London has a section specially devoted to Antarctic Heritage and Conservation.
Read the 'blog'
Are you any chance a penguin fan or fanatic? In that case you could do worse than visiting penguins51.com, which contains almost everything you could want to know, including many useful links.
There are penguin games, penguin video clips, penguin cartoons, shuffle the penguin, poke the penguin, Pokey the penguin - you name it, you'll probably find it there.
Penguins51 is the website of Karen Ronne Tupek, who is also a website designer. Karen is the daughter and granddaughter of polar, especially Antarctic, explorers. She was a member of her father's expedition to the high Arctic, very close to the North Pole, visiting historic sites important in exploration. She traveled in February 1995 to the Antarctic to visit a historic base, constructed by her father, where her mother became the first woman to visit and over winter in the Antarctic on their private expedition. Combining her profession with her heritage, she worked with the National Science Foundation to make his base an international historic site and to preserve it, and she contributed material to the site museum. Karen was able to fulfill her dream to ski in the Antarctic. She had returned five times and twice semi-circumnavigated the Antarctic continent.
After seven wonderful years of inspiring and educating young men and women to be leaders, educators, community builders, entrepreneurs, and stewards of the earth, the Shackleton School had finally closed its doors.
Its leaders and moving spirits, Luke O'Neill and Peter Clarke, write: 'While we are all saddened to see such a powerful and rewarding educational program come to an end, we feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to develop a remarkable expedition-based curriculum that worked. Without so many fellow believers by our side, we would never have been able to bring this dream to life. It is our sincere hope that the educational model we developed will take hold in schools around the globe, so that more young men and women will have the chance to explore their potential as leaders.'
If you would like to know more about Shackleton School's unique expedition-based curriculum, please contact Peter Clarke, former Head of School, at email@example.com or Shackleton's founder, Luke O'Neill, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Plans are afoot (see above) to launch a Young Caird section, aimed at interesting younger readers in the story of Shackleton, his expeditions, the Endurance and the James Caird.
Initial sections, including a note of Shackleton-related publications for younger readers, will begin appearing on these pages in due course.
Sir Ernest Shackleton is a particular hero of Betty Bailey, who explains why his achievement is so important to her, and gives a good, readable outline of his most famous expedition on the 'My hero' website.
The sheer test of endurance that he faced, first leading his three colleagues to 'Furthest South' in January 1909 - the closest any man had ever come to the Pole at that time - and then in 1915-16 coping with the crushing of the Endurance in the ice, the loss of the ship, survival on the ice, the escape by boats and finally the appalling 800 mile boat journey in the James Caird so as to reach South Georgia and bring help to his stranded men ranks as one of the most extraordinary andb heroic exploration stories of all time.
For some time the Committee has been discussing the possibility of establishing a 'Junior Membership'. It is valuable and important to encourage younger persons to join - not only to safeguard the future of the Society, but also to meet the obvious interest in 'things polar' within the youth community: this is particularly demonstrated by the high volume of enquiries and 'hits' received through the James Caird Society website, as well as the keen response met when some of our members talk at schools and youth clubs around the country.
JCS Committee member Stephen Scott-Fawcett has investigated the various possibilities. He has met with some Dulwich College pupils to discuss ways in which the Society might provide activities of interest to them. Mr. Nick Hewlett, who teaches Geography, and three pupils were invited to attend the JCS Tenth Anniversary Dinner held on 14th May 2004 at the Scott-Polar Research Institute and Graduate Institute in Cambridge. Stephen also arranged for some students to attend lectures held by the JCS in Cambridge and Dulwich, respectively, and gave a short illustrated talk to the Middle & Upper Schools, and a lunch-time talk to Sixth Formers at Shackleton's old school. Meetings have been held with the Dulwich College Geography Society to explore the optimum way forward, with the intention of creating a formal link between the pupils and the James Caird Society. It is envisaged that the James Cairders could form an integral part of The James Caird Society and be under the same constitution. It is also proposed that there would be a separate (and distinctive) Notice Board erected at the College for pupils to be kept informed of membership issues, events etc.
Good progress has already been made and in 2004 a new membership for younger people was established. Two Dulwich College students, Simon Glasson, the inaugural Chairman of the James Cairders, and web designer Christopher McMeekin have set in motion a new James Cairders website, which can be found at www.jamescairders.org.uk. Stephen Scott-Fawcett is the Honorary Chairman.
The James Cairders share the aims of the James Caird Society: to preserve the memory, honour the remarkable feats of discovery in the Antarctic and commend the outstanding qualities of leadership associated with the name of Sir Ernest Shackleton (l874-l922), especially during the ill-fated but glorious Endurance expedition.
The natural contact the Society has with Dulwich College, which Shacklelton attended from 1887-1890, makes it possible to 'test' the idea of Junior Membership on home territory first. The intention is, however, to offer membership of The Cairders to other educational establishments, as well as private individuals, as soon as is practicable. One possibility might be for schools and colleges to become affiliated members.
All this remains for future discussion by the James Caird Society Committee. No final decisions have been made. Nevertheless, these are exciting times for the Society and, without question, it is important that we strive to promote the outstanding polar endeavours of Sir Ernest Shackleton to all generations, particularly the rising.
Those interested in Shackleton's early years might like to visit the Antarctic Circle site, an interesting and detailed source of varied Polar information, which notes: 'The Shackleton family moved to 12, Westwood Hill, Sydenham, London [SE26] in 1885; and from here young Ernest went each day to Dulwich College, a fairly distant walk away (I know because I've walked it!) The house now has a Greater London Council "blue plaque," installed in 1928 (by the then London County Council), that reads "Sir Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922), Antarctic Explorer, lived here." Dr. Shackleton, Ernest's father, and the family remained at this address for 32 years. Back then the house was called 'Aberdeen House'; it's now called 'St. Davids'. Next door is St. Bartholomew's Church where the Shackleton family may have worshipped.'
It is hoped that, in time, The Cairders will expand into other schools in the UK and beyond.
- Stephen Scott-Fawcett, MA, FRGS, Honorary Chairman.
The British Schools Exploring Society reports on the official South Georgia website that in December 2003 – January 2004 Brigadier David Nicholls (Royal Marines retired) led a 30-strong expedition including 21 Young Explorers aged 18 to 24 to Chile, the Falkland Islands and South Georgia.
The British Antarctic Survey's ship, HMS Endurance, generously supported the Expedition.
In South Georgia the expedition was based in Husvik and carried out three objectives: to search for the stove left by Sir Ernest Shackleton below Break Wind Ridge, inland from Fortuna Bay (sadly after a thorough search with metal detectors in the very thick snow covering the glacier, it failed to turn up!); to ascend several previously unclimbed peaks (of over 4000 ft) in the Wilckens range; ascending via the Nuemayer Glacier to the Khol-Larsen Plateau (3,000 ft); and to scientific studies, including making a collection of vascular plants. While at Husvik the Expedition spent time helpfully cleaning up the Manager's villa and the radio shack, and doing renovation work at the Scandinavian whalers' cemeteries in Husvik and Leith.
by Connie & Peter Roop, illustrated by Bob Doucet (Hello Reader! series, Level 4)
This lively version of the Shackleton story designed for children aged 7-9 is published by Scholastic in its 'Hello Reader' series and issued in paperback.
by Monica Kulling (Step into Reading, Step 4), for reading level ages 9-12.
The book is published in paperback.
by Matt White : This book is designed for High Five Reading level readers
By Meredith Hooper. Available from National Maritime Museum, Greenwich following its successful Exhibition South - The Race to the Pole.
Ponko the Penguin and his friend Joey Bear like adventures. But searching for the South Pole is a very very BIG adventure...Ponko, a stuffed toy penguin, was used by Captain Scott's photographer Herbert Ponting to promote the film and photography work from his expeditions to the South Pole.
Leading children’s author Meredith Hooper brings Ponko the Penguin vividly to life in this tale of Antarctic adventure written specially for younger children.
The audiobook Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World : The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance (written by Jennifer Armstrong and performed by Taylor Mali, four cassettes, four hours, for family listening and children aged l0 or above), published by Audio Bookshelf was voted 'truly outstanding' by the US Publishers Weekly :
'To give listeners a sense of the crew's journal entries found in the book, Mali intersperses his narration with various voices and accents. These provide a vivid picture of the cabin fever, loneliness, fear and suffering Shackleton's men endured, as well as their unquestionable courage.'
Shackleton, Endurance and the James Caird as you've never seen them before! A delightfully faithful cartoon version of the 1914-16 Endurance Expedition entitled 'You wouldn't want to be a Polar Explorer!' catches the celebrated saga of Shackleton and his crew as no other retelling has done before. For lighter moments - not to be missed
Those interested in Shackleton as an educational subject in class for young readers and enthusiasts will find the WGBH/Nova site map especially useful in tracking down valuable materials. The website is connected with the splendid WGBH/Nova Imax film Endurance : Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure.
A series of information sheets on Antarctica is also available on the New Zealand-based International Centre for Antarctic Research (ICAIR) site.