Table of Contents
Abraham Lincoln was a great President of the United States of America. When Lincoln’s son was at school, he wrote a letter to his son’s teacher requesting him to mould the boy to become a good human being. In this letter he elaborated the qualities that make one a good human being.
Lincoln says that his son will have to learn that all men are not just and true. But he still requests his son’s teacher to teach him that for every scoundrel there is a hero, for every selfish politician there is a dedicated leader, and for every enemy there is a friend. He wants his son to understand that there are both good and bad people in this world.
It will take time but the teacher must try to teach Lincoln’s son that a dollar earned is of far more value than five found. This will help him understand the value of hard work. Earning money honestly is far better than simply getting it by luck. He must teach him to learn to lose, but also to enjoy winning.
He tells the teacher to steer his son away from envy and to also teach him the secret of quiet laughter. Quiet laughter lets a person be inwardly happy without offending anyone, which is a great tool in polite society. His son must be allowed to learn early that the bullies are the easiest to overcome. He must not be afraid of bullies and stand up to them instead.
Lincoln tells the teacher to teach his son the wonder of books. But his son must also be given quiet time to think about the eternal mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun, and flowers on a green hillside. He wants his son to gain the knowledge of the world through both books and nature.
In school he should be taught that it is far more honourable to fail than to cheat. This will help him become an honest person. The teacher should teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone tells him they are wrong. This will help him have confidence and conviction in himself. He should also teach him to be gentle with gentle people, and tough with tough people. It is important to treat people in the same way that they treat you.
The Qualities of a Good Man
Lincoln asks the teacher to give his son the strength not to follow the crowd. His son must be allowed to form his own opinions instead of blindly following what the majority of people believe. The teacher should teach him to listen to all men but also to put all he hears through a screen of truth.
He should learn to tell truth from lies and take only the good that comes through. He should not only teach his son how to laugh when he is sad but also that there is no shame in tears. This will help him get through tough times and be more in touch with his emotions.
Lincoln’s son must be taught to mock cynics and to be careful of too much sweetness. This will help him judge people’s internal character and be careful of the ones with bad intentions. His teacher should teach him to sell his brawn and brain to the highest bidder, but to never sell his soul. His strength and intelligence can be used for his own profit but he must maintain the integrity of his soul and never sell it. He should also teach him to close his ears to a howling mob and to stand and fight for his own beliefs even if everyone is against him.
The teacher should teach his son gently but not cuddle him because only the test of fire makes fine steel. A balance between gentleness and strictness must be maintained by the teacher. His son can become a fine man only if he goes through tough training. He should let his son have the courage to be impatient and the patience to be brave. In this way he will become a courageous and strong person.
His son should be taught to have sublime faith in himself because that will make him have sublime faith in mankind. Lincoln says he knows this is a big order but the teacher must try to follow it because his son is a fine little fellow.
Abraham Lincoln elaborates on the virtues his son must be taught and also the method in which this teaching must be done. The morals and lessons taught to his son by his teacher will help him become a strong and capable human being. Lincoln’s instructions are relevant to this day, and both teachers and students can benefit through teaching and applying the things he talks about.