Finding One’s Hidden Intelectualism In Gerald Graff’s Book

June 22, 2022 by Essay Writer

What makes a person intelligent? Is all the books and classes one takes? Or is it someone with tons of experience and collection of skills? In Gerrald Graff’s “Hidden Intellectualism”, he argues students are an intellect in their own way on how they assess different subjects. Graff believes students should be taught intelect skills such as thinking, reading, and writing creatively and critically and apply them to other subjects non traditional to the education system. Subjects like, cars, music, sports etc, will benefit students now and later in life as they prepare for a career they want to pursue. The educational benefits behind Graff’s writing are, students still gain intellect skills studying non traditional subjects, find a career path or passion early on, and acquire a balance of both “book smarts” and “street smarts”.

Students should be encouraged to research and study subjects like sports, fashion, music, etc, and will still gain the same skills if not better than traditional subjects. According to Graff, “Real intellectuals turn any subject, however lightway it may seem, into grist for their mill through the thoughtful questions they can bring to it, whereas a dullard will find a way to drain the interest out of the riches subject”(Graff 334). If students were able to read and write about their interest, they will push themselves the extra mile and think outside of the box to get a better grade. For instance, back in high school in Physics class we had a “hands on” project of our choice for our final instead of a traditional exam. Based on our interests, we decided to construct a bridge to hold up to 8 textbooks and even though it was not traditional final, we still had to use our intellect skills and research skills to get an A in the class. So if students had the opportunity to study subjects of their interest, they will still be able to exploit their intelligence and apply them to all ideas.

When students first go to college they may have an idea of what career they want to study, but in most cases they do not know and end up switching majors. Graff argues, that most cases are because students are not exposed to subjects like sports, fashion, etc, that will give them an idea or perspective for a career later on in life. “Only much later did it dawn on me that the sports world was more compelling than school because it was more intellectual than school, not less. Sports after all was full of challenging arguments, debates, problems, for analysis, and intricate statistics that you can care about, as school conspicuously was not” (Graff 336). If Graff would have learned this earlier he could have pursued a career in the sports world, where he enjoys and can still be an intellect. This applies to many students going to college and switching majors until they find an interest. Where as if students were exposed to different subjects, then will have an easier time choosing a career path. The valedictorian of my high school was very smart, and intelligent in many ways but had trouble finding an interest or passion to pursue because he was not exposed to many non traditional courses. He feared of not being challenged and not gaining any intelligence skills so he focused more on his GPA with the traditional subjects. Therefore, he had to enter freshman year of college as an undeclared major. Going is an undeclared major is a set back because students take extra time exposing themselves to different classes until finding a career path they fascinate and meanwhile waste time and money. Thus, if the education system allowed students to study other subjects, then they will be given an idea or path to what career they will eventually obtain.

The education system is set for teachers to focus more on students that are book smart rather than street smart. Graff believes that, students who are street smart have an advantage to those who are book smart. “I believe that street smarts beat our book smarts in our culture not because street smarts are non intellectual, as we generally suppose, but because they satisfy an intellectual thirst more thoroughly than school culture, which seems pale and unreal”(Graff 337). Because the education system is set to focus on book smart students, street smart students seem discouraged under perform in standard subjects but because there is a lack of interest and focus in the standard school culture. Street smart students excel in activities outside of school such as sports, music, work activities, etc, and most of the time are labelled the “cool kids” by the rest of the school. These students seem to benefit and apply their intelligence to real life activities rather than normal studying for a written exam. Throughout senior year of high school, many students were beginning to work in places like, family business, local mechanic and flower shops, etc and gaining new skills not taught in traditional high school classes. Even though these students were not the perfect A’s student, they still had many intellect skills and were able to apply them to real life activities. Book smart students tend to be more prepared to enter college or university and street smart students are more prepared for real life situations. Graff explains the benefits of both and book smarts and street smarts and in conclusion the education system should not shadow students who are street smart but develop them a balance of both.

In the final analysis of Gerald Graff’s writing, it is still very relevant today and many students, even teachers should take into consideration the educational merits Graff explains throughout his writing. Students who considered themselves book smart and street smart will benefit in getting a different perspective on how to use your intellect skills. Whether it is applying them to traditional exam or to a non traditional project or activity. Students still need to learn intellect skills but can do so by studying other subjects like sports, fashion, etc, and benefit now or later in life when choosing a career path. In conclusion, everyone has a unique talent or skill they excel and enjoy, it is up to teachers, peers and even themselves to find and expose that hidden passion.  

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