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.
One of the main reasons I wrote The Stone Gate was to explore the issue of climate change. I think this is one of, if not the, most important challenges facing humanity right now. The evidence that it is happening now seems beyond doubt, confirmed by thousands of studies and research projects. And yet… we really don’t seem to be doing much about it. I started wondering why that is.
One of the reasons, I think, is that 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.
I think 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.
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
- How has climate change affected Noah and Sara’s world? Do you think this could really happen?
- 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. Now These projects encourage students to think about the issues in the book in relation to their own town or neighbourhood. They will need some research and possibly classroom discussion to explore what scientists and experts say will happen with climate change, what makes something sustainable, etc, but should finish with a piece of creative writing…
- Describe a day living in a future world IN YOUR TOWN if predictions of climate change come true.
- Describe a day in a more “sustainable” society IN YOUR TOWN.
- Describe a day living in a hunter-gathering society with no cars, computers, electricity or plastic. How would you eat? Would it be fun?
- 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 person – “I ate my breakfast…” – or the third person “Sally ate her breakfast”)