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Book Review of "Unselfie" by Michele Borba

Wednesday, September 6, 2017  
Posted by: Christina Mimms
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Reviewed by Arvi Balseiro, Head of The Cushman School, Miami, FL

Each of us represents independent schools with varying missions and philosophies. The commonality is that we always attempt to ensure that the educational landscape and the experiences we provide in our schools are relevant and influence our students in positive ways so they can be highly engaged, global citizens. These very deliberate efforts are especially important during the impressionable years when a child’s character and dispositions are developed. The challenges we are facing, however, as we strive to accomplish these goals, have led to my deep concern for our children, teens, and young adults.   

As we are all aware, the impact of media, social media, and music, without proper controls and balanced use, is negatively influencing students as they make choices in their lives. And as you will agree, there is an increase in self-absorption among children and teens. I believe that you may share my view and are witnessing the lessening of students’ resiliency, decrease in empathy, self-image and academic success, and increases in negative social behavior and bullying.

To do our best to counter balance these forces, you will enjoy reading “UnSelfie,” in which Dr. Borba delivers an argument about why empathy will change negative behaviors and improve self-regulation. Dr. Borba makes the connection between the alarming decrease in empathy and the increase in self-absorption, which she describes as a serious and dangerous epidemic. She lays out the researched-based, nine-step roadmap of how educators, parents, and any caretaker can aid children in developing, practicing, and living their lives in an empathetic way, and she provides simple examples representing the recommended ages and suitability, from toddlers and preschoolers to tweens and all ages.

Between the increase of stress and anxiety in our students, the glorification of violent behavior on all screens including video, TV, and online streaming, and the age of multi-tasking and dividing attention, our students will continue to be derailed from helping others in making our world a better place. They need our deliberate efforts to develop empathy in our students through partnerships with our parents.

Empathy is often referred to as a “soft skill,” but in my opinion, it is a necessary “hard skill” to maintain a civilized and happy society. If we join together as an independent school community to accomplish this goal, and remember that it does take a village to raise a child, we will strengthen as a team and reach our goal of developing all students who display a strong, positive sense of self with empathy at the forefront. 





Arvi Balseiro is head of The Cushman School in Miami, FL. 



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