X-box is attractive but nothing can beat the great outdoors...

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CLIVE SMITH: The dressing-up corner is now no longer safe from the PC brigade

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I’ve just returned from a week in Wales with Year 6, and am nursing sore feet from two ascents of Pen y Fan, southern Britain’s highest point (a fact that always impresses the children).

For some of the children it was their first ever climb up a mountain.

As we plodded skyward, one of the girls voiced her thoughts on how it was good to get away from electricity and the ‘normal’ things in life.

The discussion that followed was so absorbing that conquering the summit seemed to take us by surprise.

Children were divided on the value of their X-box; some were not missing their electronic gadgets at all and others were counting down the days to being electronic friends reunited.

There are aspects of our lives that have undoubtedly benefited from technological advances and no doubt improvements in technology will continue to offer the opportunities to enrich and enhance our lives.

This is true of schools too; apart from the odd interactive white elephant board, technology has enabled us to make improvements to what and how we teach.

But I think that the Wooden Horse of technology is also ushering less beneficial influences into our lives too.

While it’s not difficult to appreciate the skill of programmers who bring the virtual closer to the real, the 24-hour armchair accessibility of it has allowed it to become the norm.

Children no longer need fresh air to get out into the world.

The attraction of the X-box is indisputable, yet I fear we risk losing much if we allow lure of the virtual to remain unchallenged.

Children are the future stewards of our planet.

If children are to make beneficial and reasonable decisions about sustainable development, transport infrastructure, housing and energy, for example, then they need to understand what is at risk when such decisions need to be made.

Such an understanding can only come from a deep appreciation of what the natural world offers and what it is to live in that world.

I think our generation has largely failed its duty of stewardship and has been let down the selfish, short-termism of policy makers.

We must take care to ensure future generations of children understand that ancient woodland is not something that once gone can simply be rebooted.

Walking up mountains is just one way of doing this and makes a couple of sore feet worthwhile.