We all know that 6 -12 year old children love to hero-worship. Our job is to introduce them to a range of worthy contenders for this natural admiration and aspiration.
Sometimes these heroes have made a huge difference to the world, fought for a cause or invented something that improved our lives, sometimes they have demonstrated great moral fibre by standing up for their beliefs. Sometimes they have just been a little rebellious - showing us that we don't always have to stick to the rules and that questioning authority is an important part of a strong society.
Children do not need to be told who to admire - but they do need to be told about the people that they might admire, so that they have the choice. In Montessori education, we do this through storytelling. If those stories are also linked to handwork - so much the better!
Below is the story of a very special sheep, who broke the rules and did his own thing. There is plenty more to know about Shrek so children can do their own research into him if they are interested.
The Story of Shrek
You might not think of sheep as the sort of animals that could become famous, but there is one sheep who became very famous for not doing what he was supposed to do.
In 2004, Shrek, a merino sheep from New Zealand, did not go to the shearing shed with the rest of his flock on the day he was due to have his beautiful fleece trimmed for summer. Instead, he went in the other direction and found a cave to live in by himself.
Now, you might wonder why nobody missed Shrek, but he was part of a flock of
17 000 sheep! That is a very large flock. So maybe you can see how the shepherds thought they had rounded up all of the sheep and didn’t notice when one slipped away.
Shrek did not just skip shearing on that one day – he lived in his cave, avoiding shearing for six whole years! Can you imagine what he looked like after six years of growing his wool and no shearing? Well, the shepherd who eventually found him, didn’t even recognise him as a sheep at first! His wool was so long it covered most of his face and legs – he would have looked like a giant, dirty pompom!
Poor Shrek must have been very hot and uncomfortable. The shepherd took him back to the shearing shed and gave him his first haircut in six years – what a relief that must have been for him. When it was all cut off, Shrek’s fleece weighed 27 kgs (60lbs)! That is enough wool to make twenty men’s suits!
No one had ever seen such long merino wool before and many people wanted some of Shrek’s fleece so it was auctioned off to raise money for children’s charities. There was so much of it, that it made a lot of money.
Shrek became a hero in New Zealand, not only amongst sheep, but also amongst humans. On his tenth birthday, he was taken to parliament to meet the Prime Minister, and his second ever shearing, three years after he was found, took place on an iceberg floating in the ocean. It was televised so the whole nation could watch their iconic sheep being looked after!
Next time I post I will be able to give you the launch date of my book, 'The Work of Wool - A Montessori Handwork Album' as well as details of how to order your copy. If you haven't already, remember to subscribe to my mailing list as I will be sending out a discount code very soon!