Albert Einstein's Advice to his Son: "Play What Pleases You"

On November 25th, 1915, Albert Einstein unveiled his general theory of relativity to the Prussian Academy of Sciences, the result of nearly a decade of intense research. This two-page paper would elevate Einstein to worldwide fame and secure his place as one of the greatest physicists in history. A few days before this presentation, Einstein wrote a letter to his 11-year-old son, Hans Albert, who was residing in Vienna with his second son, Eduard 'Tete,' and his estranged wife, Mileva. The letter, which can be found in the book "Posterity: Letters of Great Americans to Their Children," features advice from Einstein to his son Hans Albert on love, learning, creativity and passion.

Albert Einstein's letter to his son 

My dear Albert,

Yesterday I received your dear letter and was very happy with it. I was already afraid you wouldn’t write to me at all any more. You told me when I was in Zurich, that it is awkward for you when I come to Zurich. Therefore I think it is better if we get together in a different place, where nobody will interfere with our comfort. I will in any case urge that each year we spend a whole month together, so that you see that you have a father who is fond of you and who loves you. You can also learn many good and beautiful things from me, something another cannot as easily offer you. What I have achieved through such a lot of strenuous work shall not only be there for strangers but especially for my own boys. These days I have completed one of the most beautiful works of my life, when you are bigger, I will tell you about it.

I am very pleased that you find joy with the piano. This and carpentry are in my opinion for your age the best pursuits, better even than school. Because those are things which fit a young person such as you very well. Mainly play the things on the piano which please you, even if the teacher does not assign those. That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes. I am sometimes so wrapped up in my work that I forget about the noon meal. . . .

Be with Tete kissed by your


Regards to Mama.

Love is central to learning 

I often say that if you are not singing at work, you need to work on your singing. You have to love what you do. The most poignant sentence I found in this letter is the following: Mainly play the things on the piano which please you, even if the teacher does not assign those. He taught him the timeless lesson that love is central to learning. 

Love is a powerful emotion that can play a significant role in the learning process. When we love something or someone, we are more likely to be motivated to learn about it or them, and to put in the effort to understand and appreciate them more fully. Love also creates a positive and supportive environment for learning, as it fosters a sense of safety and security that allows us to take risks and explore new ideas without fear of failure.

Research has also shown that love can have a direct impact on the way our brains process information and form connections. Studies have found that when we are in a state of love, our brains release oxytocin, a hormone that promotes feelings of trust, attachment and emotional bonding. Oxytocin also increases the activity in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning. This means that when we love something or someone, our brains are more active and better able to process new information and form lasting memories.

Furthermore, when children feel loved and supported by their parents or caregivers, they are more likely to develop a positive self-concept and self-esteem, which are essential for a healthy psychological development and academic success.

In summary, Love plays a fundamental role in learning, it creates a positive and supportive environment, it fosters motivation, it can have a direct impact on the way our brain processes information and forms connections, and it is essential for a healthy psychological development and academic success.

I thought how this can be tested using historical and literary examples. 

One example of fatherly love from history is the relationship between Alexander the Great and his father, Philip II of Macedon. Despite Philip having multiple wives and children, he had a strong bond with Alexander and was a dedicated and involved father. Philip recognized Alexander's potential and provided him with the best education, hiring Aristotle to be his personal tutor. He also took Alexander with him on military campaigns and gave him important responsibilities, grooming him to be his successor. Alexander deeply respected and loved his father and was deeply affected by his assassination. He even named one of his cities after him, Alexandria.

An example of fatherly love from literature is Atticus Finch from Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird." Atticus is a single father raising his two children, Jem and Scout, in the 1930s in Alabama. Despite the racism and prejudice of the time, Atticus teaches his children to be fair and just, and to treat everyone with kindness and respect. He also shows them the importance of courage and standing up for what is right. Atticus's love for his children is evident throughout the book and he is willing to put himself in harm's way to protect them.