Teaching notes

The Stone Gate can be used in schools as a way to explore the topic of climate change and sustainable living. Please read these notes if you are a teacher and interested in using the book in class. I’m also happy to work with teachers to adapt these notes. Feel free to email me.

Climate change
I wrote The Stone Gate to explore climate change, the biggest challenge facing humanity today (or indeed, ever). While most people now accept global warming is a reality, the science says we should be treating it as a top-priority emergency, and yet most people seem able to push it to the back of their minds. I started wondering why.

The key reason, I think, is it doesn’t seem real. We hear a lot of facts and figures, but we can’t quite imagine what it all means. What will climate change be like? Paradoxically, I think, things only seem real if we can imagine them. So The Stone Gate began as an attempt to imagine what climate change will actually be like, not in some dim and distant future, but in the near-future.

Sustainable living
The same thing applies to “sustainable living”. The environmental movement talks about renewable energy and using less resources and recycling and so on, but can we actually imagine this sustainable society? What will it be like to live in? Again, the Stone Gate attempts to imagine that world.

Indigenous life
The Stone Gate also explores “hunter-gathering” life – a way of living still found in various places around the world, and once common to all our ancestors.

Suggested discussion points

  1. How has climate change affected Noah and Sara’s world? Do you think this could really happen?
  2. Why is Beth’s world “sustainable”? In what ways would it be better, and worse, than our lives today?

Suggested research and creative writing projects
The Stone Gate is set in a small seaside town in Australia. These projects encourage students to think about climate change, sustainability and indigenous life in relation to their own town or neighbourhood. They involve research and classroom discussion to find out what scientists and experts say will happen with climate change, what makes something sustainable, etc, and  should finish with a piece of creative writing The key aim is to stimulate students’ interest in these topics through imagination …

  1. Describe a day living in the near-future IN YOUR TOWN if predictions about the effects of climate change come true.
  2. Describe a day in a more “sustainable” society IN YOUR TOWN.
  3. Describe a day living in a hunter-gathering society with no cars, computers, electricity or plastic. How would you eat? Would it be fun?
  4. You are lost in the woods or some other wild environment. How would you survive? What would you eat? What if it rained?

(Students can write in the first or third person.)




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