A Summary Of Gerald Graf’s Ideas In Hidden Intellectualism
Intellectualism is something everyone is born with; some people just require more nurturing than others. Schools and colleges write off street smart kids as if they are not intelligent because they are unable to apply their intelligence in their school work. They do not give it another thought to nurture these student’s intellect in a way that better suits the individual. Even if a student leans more toward street smarts than academic intelligence, it is still important to nurture their interests in an academic environment. Even anti-intellectuals can become intellectuals.
Learning to be an intellectual is about taking the student’s interests and applying it academically. Writing about sports, cars, fashion, games, etc., students are still learning to articulate their thoughts and words. Gerald Graff took an exert from his own life when he wrote,
I see now that the interminable analysis of sports teams, movies, and toughness that my friends and I engaged in—a type of analysis, needless to say, that the real toughs would have never stooped to—I was already betraying an allegiance to the egghead world. I was practicing being an intellectual before I knew that was what I wanted to be. (62)
Graff’s quote from his own life shows that a student does not have to write or learn from a standard academia that schools and colleges see fit. Even the most mundane subjects can be taught to be intellectually nurturing.
It is important to communicate and write effectively with literacy. The subjects the student is interested in should be made an option to be able to write, learn, and research about them. If the subject is interesting to the pupil it will most likely be something that is easy for the student to concentrate on. It will be easier for the student to be able to take their interests and apply it academically. Becoming an intellectual is learned through life experiences, and the simplest debates we have with our friends and peers.
If schools and colleges recognized how to channel student’s street-smart intelligence into academic intelligence, they would do much better in school. Students can be intellectuals whether they are academic smart or street smart. According to the author, Graff states, “It was in reading and arguing about sports and toughness that I experienced what it felt like to propose a generalization, restate and respond to a counterargument and perform other intellectualizing operation, including composing the kind of sentences I am writing now (63).” Intellectualism is not a one size fits all. Intellectualism is universal and can be learned by anyone with the proper nourishment.
The author continues incessantly to drive the point that schools and colleges are dropping the ball when it comes to the intellectual world (63). Graff goes on to quote Ned Laffhas when he says, “The challenge…is not to simply exploit students’ nonacademic interests, but to get them to see those interests through academic eyes (64).” It is an effect of the society we live in today that one is only considered an academic if students only learn what a school thinks is important and should be taught.
Learning from magazines, games, sports, etc., is much better than not learning at all. Student’s will eventually catch on and inherit an ability to think intellectually, than by not writing what-so-ever. Schools and colleges need to start individualizing a student’s academics by the subjects they are interested in. Gerald Graff said it best when he said,
If I am right, then schools and colleges are missing an opportunity when they do not encourage students to take their nonacademic interests as objects of academic study. It is self-defeating to decline to introduce any text or subject that figures to engage students who will otherwise tune out academic work entirely…It’s a good bet that if students get hooked on reading and writing by doing term papers on Source, they will eventually get to On Liberty. But even if they don’t the magazine reading will make them more reflective than they would be otherwise. (64)
No matter what the subject may be, it is better to read and write about it than to not do those things at all. The subject that is read and written about will always prevail over not exercising an ability to unlock the intellectual potential.
Graff, Gerald, et al. ‘They Say / I Say’: the Moves That Matter in Academic Writing with Readings. W. W. Norton & Company, 2018.
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