Why is the school called Lincoln Elementary School in Andrew Clements's book Frindle?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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It can be said that in his young reader's novel Frindle, author Andrew Clements chose to name Nick Allen's elementary school Lincoln Elementary for symbolic purposes that connect to major themes in the story, such as the value of self-education and the power of words.

The historic Abraham Lincoln has come to embody the value of education, especially the value of self-education. Growing up as a child on a homestead in Indiana, Lincoln did not receive very much formal education. During his childhood, Lincoln was educated by his stepmother and a few different teachers in a log cabin school room. He was always a very dedicated student, studying at night by the fireside because he had chores to do during the day. He even walked four miles to get to school. But he received most of his education from reading books on his own. Dennis Hanks, Lincoln's best friend growing up, has been quoted as saying, "I never saw Abe after he was 12, that he didn't have a book in his hand or in his pocket" (Illinois Periodicals Online, "A Real Education").

Just as we learn from Lincoln, in Frindle, author Clements teaches his readers the value of self-education and that self-education can be achieved through the power of words. Though Nick believes his motive for most of his behavior is to disrupt his classroom and study time, most of his behavior actually serves as a means of self-education. One example can be seen in his use of launching what he calls "thought-grenade[s]" to distract adults around him, like his parents and teachers. However, what Nick doesn't realize is that his "thought-grenade[s]" are actually enhancing his critical thinking skills; they are helping him to think analytically and outside of the box, a tool most students today do not develop through classroom education. Mrs. Granger recognizes the value of his "thought-grenade" about where words come from and encourages him to educate himself on the topic by doing his own research report on the subject. Just like Lincoln, Nick learns the power of words--words educate, and through words, one can achieve self-education.

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