A Land Ethic Lesson

by Eric Nicholson

Enter Caliban, half vegetative, half animal, a true green man. I reach to touch his mossy skin

but cannot feel anything. We can be ethical only in relation to something we can see, feel, understand and love. . . “when unrighteousness exults in pride, then my Spirit arises on Earth”

A Lesson Plan for Key Stage 4 +


  • Copies of essay, A Land Ethic For Tomorrow (from sustainable source)
  • Copies of The Tempest (from sustainable source)
  • Paper (from sustainable source)
  • Pencils (from sustainable source)
  • Large sheet with animal tracks (animal skin from local slaughterhouse)


To create satellite global mixed media installations in response to: those who treat the land as though it is merely property

Subsidiary aim – to break through to a beatific vision of Gaia where children will peacefully co-operate with the great mammals of the ocean and use whale power to travel faster and faster in the mind, as horse power once carried us over the ground

Ask students to read the essay, discuss and profit virtually from the machinations of diverse logging companies, taking on board the economics of the profit margin as expounded by all capitalist societies with reference to Marx, Engels, Keynes et al

Caliban: “There’s wood enough within”

Stage Direction: Start up machinery. Check safety equipment; stand well back. The chain saw roars. . . a moose walks through the wood. . . a nightingale sings. . .

You are a logger; write up your typical day (discuss with peers) Who do you work for?

Consider: We can be ethical only in relation to something we can see, FEEL, understand and LOVE

I reach to touch but cannot feel anything/here are some words you may choose to write about: love, empathy, deforestation, green desertification, exploitation and manipulation and obfuscation

Discuss: Caliban is disenfranchised, emotionally dysfunctional as a result of __________________       [Fill in blank; Hint, begins with ALIEN. . . ] Draw (or use digital graphics to visually depict ) TWO        of your chosen words (This helps vis-a-vis visualisation; large numbers are beyond IMAGINATION)

20,000,000 hectares of forest were destroyed for Oil Palm production

Draw a graphic to represent this as a proportion of a land mass you have known

Caliban’s land ethic is that of a hunter gatherer. He is surrounded by multinationals and merchants who value surplus, banking, storage, profit, commodities, dominance AND WOOD But not VIRTUE

Poets have written on: WOOD, SKIN, PAPYRUS, FISH, BERRIES, EARTH, FIRE, WATER, AIR Therefore I will teach my daughter to love and respect the Earth and all its inhabitants, to use what we have but not to be greedy, live sustainably and walk gently on the land AND write poetry on

  • pine cones
  • bark
  • sap
  • leaves
  • mountains
  • roots
  • flowers
  • heartwood
  • seeds
  • fruits
  • nuts
  • rivers
  • wind




The text is silent about Caliban’s fate, suggesting neither that he heals the earth or returns

            to his element

                        – the rising sea


[Eric Nicholson is now retired. He worked as an art teacher and also worked in other fields of education. One book about Renaissance Art and Self-inquiry is looking for a publisher. Now working on a book about Blake and Buddhism. He enjoys countryside conservation, writing, singing in a choir and walking. Published in neutrons/protons, Literary Orphans, Empty Sink and HEArt Online. You can find his blog here.]