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Can a virtual school trip match up to the real thing?

In the latest of his reflections on place and pathway, Will Gore goes queasy at the memory of a disastrous visit to Calais during which there was a shameful incident at a hypermarket

Saturday 20 June 2020 10:51
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Sea legs were in short supply on the ferry over
Sea legs were in short supply on the ferry over

Digital technology has made many things possible in these months of coronavirus lockdown. But there are still limits: meetings via Zoom or Skype just aren’t as effective as getting together in person; homeschooling, even in the internet age, is no match for children being taught by real teachers in real classrooms.

This week I saw a former colleague describing on social media how her child’s headteacher had announced plans for a virtual school trip. For everyone who feels upset at their children’s continued absence from formal education, the idea that a jolly day out to some natural wonder or historical site can be suitably replaced with a video and a bit of online chit-chat is particularly heartbreaking.

But then I thought back to my own experience of school trips – admittedly quite a long time ago – and I began to wonder if in some circumstances a virtual visit might not actually be preferable.

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