Empathy Machines: Harnessing the humanitarian power of Portals
By Kristen Erickson, Greenwich Academy
(Childhood Education Innovations, March/April 2019)
Combining the sophistication of modern communication technology with the simplicity of an unadorned mobile room, Portals are making it possible for people around the world to connect and recognize their shared humanity.
It is a great irony that in this age of technology-supported connections, we are more polarized than ever before. Children have abundant online “friends,” yet they rarely truly engage in meaningful dialogue. Despite these virtual connections and ready access to news through Internet sources, many students learn about people of other cultures only through textbooks or headlines and not through direct discussion. Given recent refugee crises and talk of building walls, it seems crucial that we encourage children to engage fully in dialogue across cultures and borders with an aim to building a more global citizenry.