The main purpose of Gerald Graff’s article of “Hidden Intellectualism” was to bring the college students to attention about the idea that hidden intellectualism can be found in our everyday society. In his article, Graff identifies with the readers by listing some types and ways that different individuals can connect with the idea of intellectualism. He does this by first making clear of the traditional argument of the difference between “book smarts” (intellectualism) and “street smarts.” He explains that the book smart can arise in various ways and hide in what should not have been street smarts, thus the idea of hidden intellectualism. To further showcase this, he describes how he found out he was gifted intellectually because he used to use arguments and reasoning to argue about sports with his mates during his adolescents period. Moreover, he uses the story of Michael Warner who used to say about the Christian Pentecostal views of his parents instead of arguing sports with his peers. This essay, therefore, intends to analyze Graff’s article deeply.
Graff starts his article by letting the readers know about the instant first impression of an academic society. He argues that there is a mentality in the community that when one studies on intelligent subjects, the society instantly thinks that he or she is an intellect thus limiting intellectualism to those academic subjects while in the real sense, one needs to discover and learn how to be an intellect slowly. He says, “What doesn’t occur to us, though, is that schools and colleges might be at fault for missing the opportunity to tap into such street smarts and channel them into good academic work.” “Nor do we consider one of the major reasons why schools and colleges overlook the intellectual potential of street smarts: the fact that we associate those street smarts with anti-intellectual concerns. We associate the educated life, the life of the mind, too narrowly and exclusively with subjects and texts that we consider inherently weighty and academic.” Even though topics that are not based on academics may not be seen as incredible studies, they can be explored in an educated way. He says this as he had grown up in a society where the “street smarts” and “school smarts” did not mix. He witnessed how the experiences of those that did not study, even if their setting is informal, can branch onto other knowledgeable talents.
Graff argues that intellectualism is often looked down upon and most people have labeled it as being nerdy and geeky. He says, “Real intellectuals turn any subjects however lightweight it may seem into grist for their mill through…..out of the rightest subjects.” This means that if students could be first trained to be intellects in something they love, then they would use that knowledge on the subjects they love and be true intellectuals in that subject. He stated, ‘Students do not need to read models of intellectually challenging writing _and Orwell is a great one_ if they are to become intellectuals themselves. But they would be more prone to take on intellectual identities if we encouraged them to do so at first on subjects that interest them rather than ones that interest us.” Another logic made by Graff was that “when Marrilyn Monroe married the playwright author miller in 1956 after divorcing retired baseball star Di Maggio, the symbolic triumph of a geek over jock suggested the way the wind was blowing.” The target audience of this point is those people that think that being an intellectual make someone a geek; however, it is okay to be an intellectual.
All through Graff’s article, there are many emotional appeals to his readers as he tries to bring home his argument about finding intellectualism in various places and not depend on one source. He gives his case on why students are not as intellect today as they were in the old days by stating, “People would be socially accepted than to be known as book smart.” He emphasizes that it is important to let the kids know of the intellectualism by teaching them because most of them are not aware of it. He says that by bringing the youth culture into the curriculum, the kids can easily transform into great intellectuals. He supports this by stating how kids usually argue passionately about sports and music and that they can easily channel that energy and passion for discussing the classic work of literature and other scholarly subjects. He supports the idea of helping kids become intellectuals rather than just letting them find out by themselves because it is still work in progress. He supports this by explaining his own adolescent experience as a case in point. He explains how he hated books except those that are a sport- related. He states, “The only reading I cared to do or could do was sports magazines, on which I became hooked, becoming a regular reader of Sports magazine in the late forties……In short, I was your typical teenage anti-intellectual-or, so I believed for a long time. I have recently come to think, however, that my preference for sports over schoolwork was not anti-intellectualism so much as intellectualism by other means.”
He further explains how he grew up in the Chicago neighborhood which had become a melting pot after World War II. He says the block he stayed in was solidly middle-class people and adjacent were those of a higher class who had fled postwar joblessness in the South and Appalachia. Therefore there was a struggle to maintain the boundary between clean-cut” boys like him and working class “hoods” as they used to call them, which referred to the idea that it was good to be openly smart in a bookish sort of way. To him, it was hard to identify himself. He wrote, “I grew up torn, then, between the need to prove I was smart and the fear of a beating if I approved it too well; between the need not to jeopardize my respectable future and the need to impress the hoods.” All kids should be embraced with their level of intellectualism even if it is not school related.
Generally, Graff encourages college students to focus more on what they love and work on it. In this way, they will become intellects in what they like. The society should embrace minds outside the school and scholarly references as they matter too. College students should not feel low because they are not good at academics; instead, they should work on what they love with the help of teachers and their educators. In this way, kids will be inspired differently, and they will believe in themselves all the time.
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