Q. 24.0( 3 Votes )

Read this famous letter: Abraham Lincoln's Letter to His Son's Teacher

Respected Teacher,

My son will have to learn I know that all men are not just, all men are not true. But teach him

also that for every scoundrel there is a hero; that for every selfish politician, there is a

dedicated leader. Teach him that for every enemy there is a friend.

It will take time, I know; but teach him, if you can, that a dollar earned is far more valuable than

five found.

Teach him to learn to lose and also to enjoy winning.

Steer him away from envy, if you can.

Teach him the secret of quiet laughter. Let him learn early that the bullies are the easiest to

lick.

Teach him, if you can, the wonder of books... but also give him quiet time to ponder over the

eternal mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun, and flowers on a green hill -side.

In school teach him it is far more honourable to fail than to cheat.

Teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone tells him they are wrong.

Teach him to be gentle with gentle people and tough with the tough.

Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when everyone is getting on the

bandwagon.

Teach him to listen to all men but teach him also to filter all he hears on a screen of truth and

take only the good that comes through.

Teach him, if you can, how to laugh when he is sad. Teach him there is no shame in tears. Teach

him to scoff at cynics and to beware of too much sweetness.

Teach him to sell his brawn and brain to the highest bidders; but never to put a price tag on his

heart and soul.

Teach him to close his ears to a howling mob… and to stand and fight if he thinks he's right.

Treat him gently; but do not cuddle him because only the test of fire makes fine steel.

Let him have the courage to be impatient, let him have the patience to be brave. Teach him

always to have sublime faith in himself because then he will always have sublime faith in

mankind.

This is a big order; but see what you can do. He is such a fine little fellow, my son.

Abraham Lincoln.

Think and discuss:

1. What message does Lincoln's letter give the reader? Discuss with your partner.

2. Compare the purpose of Lincoln's letter with “The Last Letter" by Pt. Nehru

Answer :

1. Abraham Lincoln, through this simple yet powerful letter, leaves a long-lasting impact as well as a strong message for the reader to think over.


Lincoln has beautifully conveyed the message that an upright mind can be fostered only through right and meaningful education. He has addressed the letter to his son’s teacher, and has enlisted several teachings and lessons that he wants his son to be taught, none of which are materialistic or restricted to learning about some subjects to earn grades. In today’s world, education has merely become a platform for cramming data and competing for marks. People are forgetting what the tru motive of good education was – to make a good human being out of a naïve mind.


Lincoln, through his letter, reminds us all what good education stands for. The values he wants inculcated in his son are qualities sound educational systems must instil in each and every child. Be it understanding the ways of the world without losing faith in humanity, be it the virtues of honesty, punctuality, belief, faith, humility, acceptance, gentleness, poise, courage, wisdom or tolerance – Lincoln has beautifully conveyed the message of the important virtues man should never let go of if he wants to be successful, loved and strong.


2. The purpose of the above letter by Lincoln is clear. He has written the letter to his son’s teacher, and is talking about the various virtues he wants his son to imbibe in the process of learning while at school. He wants his son’s teacher to teach him lessons for life, and not just for the sake of securing good marks or a good job. He believes that only right education can help shape a mind into a sound mind.


Nehru’s letter has an altogether different purpose. He writes the “The Last Letter” to his daughter Indira, talking about his time in prison and how he managed to spend all those years without being despaired because he had devoted himself to reading and writing. The purpose of Nehru’s letter is to introduce to Indira the magic of history, and instil in her an affection for the same, just like he has. He also wishes to share several quotes and lines by some of the prominent thinkers of the world, in order to paint a picture in front of his daughter about the relevance of thought, action and the self, through the fitting example of learning from history.


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