In this Letter , which is actually a poem, Lincoln is asking the teacher to do certain things to make his son a nice citizen. As Lincoln himself says it is a big order but the teacher should do what he can. This poem beautifully tells the importance of a teacher in the character formation of a student.
My son has to learn that all men are not just and all men are not true. The teacher has to teach him many things: a) for every scoundrel there is a hero; b)for every selfish politician there is a dedicated leader; and c) for every enemy there is a friend.
The teacher should keep the boy away from envy and teach him the secret of quiet laughter.His son should learn that bullies are the easiest to defeat. The teacher should teach him the wonder of books. He should give him quiet time to think about the mysteries and wonders of nature--the birds in the sky, the bees in the sun and the flowers on a green hillside.
The teacher should teach him that it is more honourable to fail than cheat. He should have faith in his own ideas, even if all the people tell him that his ideas are wrong. The teacher should teach him to be gentle with gentle people and tough with tough people.
The teacher should try to give the boy the strength not to follow the crowd. He should be taught to listen to all men, but he should learn to differentiate truth from falsehood. He should be taught to laugh when he is ad and let him know that there is no shame in tears. He should be taught to laugh at the cynics and to be careful about people who show too much sweetness.
Teach him to sell his physical and mental abilities to the one who pays most. But he should never sell his heart and soul. He should learn to close his ears to the shouts of the crowds and fight if he thinks he is right. He wants the teacher to treat the boy gently. But he should be pampered too much because, like steel becomes strong only when it is put in fire, a man becomes strong only when he faces difficulties.
He should be taught to have the courage to be impatient. He should also learn to have patience to be brave. He should have faith in himself because only then he will have faith in mankind.
Lincoln says that he knows that he has given the teacher a big task. But the teacher should do what he can.Lincoln says a boy is a fine fellow and he hopes he will turn to be a nice citizen with the learning he is going to receive.