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Hidden Intellectualism By Gerald Graff Essay

?A summary of “hidden intellectualism” by Gerald Graff: In his essay “Hidden Intellectualism” Gerald Graff offers a critique of the education system for overlooking the intellectual potential of those who possess unconventional “street smarts”. We as a society assume that only the inherently weighty academic subjects grant us “true” knowledge, and that knowledge in subjects such as fashion, sports or even dating holds no intellectual tenor.

The problem with this assumption, Graff insists, is that the educational value of these subjects is being completely over-looked. A self-proclaimed teenage anti-intellectual, Graff himself lived through his own fair share of struggles within education. He found himself much more at ease studying and debating his favorite baseball teams with classmates, rather than on the assignments and readings he received in school.

These “street smarts”, such as Graff’s own in sports, he explains, beat out book smarts not because they are non-intellectual, but because they “satisfy intellectual thirst much more thoroughly than the pale, unreal school culture”. This idea supports Graff’s suggestion that if students were simply given the choice in what they wanted to build knowledge in, they would find themselves at a much higher rate of success.

However, just because a student shows passion towards a non-academic subject, Graff reminds us, that this does not guarantee deep intellectual insight, or a deep quality of thought on that subject. The challenge of letting a student express their own non-academic interests is being able to relate said interest back into academia. As college Professor Ned Laff has said, “[the students] must be able to view this non-academic subject through academic eyes” in order to build deeper knowledge.

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In “Hidden Intellectualism,” Gerald Graff pens an impressive argument wrought from personal experience, wisdom and heart. In his essay, Graff argues that street smarts have intellectual potential. A simple gem of wisdom, yet one that remains hidden beneath a sea of academic tradition. However, Graff navigates the reader through this ponderous sea with near perfection.
The journey begins at the heart of the matter, with a street smart kid failing in school. This is done to establish some common ground with his intended audience, educators. Since Graff is an educator himself, an English professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago, he understands the frustrations of having a student “who is so intelligent about so many things in life…show more content…

It appears that Graff forgot the most important thing about comedy, timing. Hence, his punch line is wordy and dated. In this age of computers, where even hand written letters are in danger of becoming extinct, many readers may not know what a penny postcard is. Although the punch line fails to deliver, the reader can still understand the gist of what Graff is implying. Thus, it does not detract from the overall effectiveness of his argument, but it does show his age; a tactic that Graff intentionally repeats as support for his next major point. Although students need examples of intellectually challenging literature, Graff believes that students who tackle literature from their own interests first are more likely to read the challenging ones. In support of this belief, Graff offers his own experiences from his adolescent years beginning in the late nineteen forties. In which, Graff describes himself as a typical anti-intellectual teen caring only for sports and sports related literature (381). He continues by describing his multicultural neighborhood, in post-WWII Chicago, where he recounts the difficulties of trying to appease all the different social groups, while avoiding a beating from the hoods and maintaining a respectable future (382). These expositional paragraphs are the setup to a logical conclusion on the horizon and help to increase the emotional connection with his readers. However, they also establish an impressive amount of credibility. Since, the

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