Analysis Of Gerald Graff's “Hidden Intellectualism'

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Author Gerald Graff is a professor of English and Education at the University of Illinois. Furthermore, he was a former president of the prestigious Modern Language Association, which happens to be the largest professional organization of university teachers and scholars. In the piece titled “Hidden Intellectualism”, Graff argues that student performance academically would rise if the institution would have faith in its students by allowing them to pursue their interests through an academic lens. Moreso, the audience Graff is aiming towards includes teachers and the Board of Education. Regardless whether they are street or book smart, Graff believes students would progressively develop their reading and writing skills. His overall take on educational establishments, led the way for him to believe that the school systems are missing a valuable opportunity to access their students mass amount of intelligence so that learning would be more engaging and a little bit easier. He serves as an example of this by using his own intellectualism within sports and entertainment. While being highly observant of sport films and the amount of effort Graff and his friends put into activities, he was unmindfully training himself to be intelligent in school subjects.

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Deficiency of appealing topics leads to a lack of focus during lectures. Since the students have no say of the type of work being handed out, the perspective that teachers are using to teach them does nothing but push students away from wanting to pursue their education. This is what Graff is trying to address, a plea to the Board of education if you will.

Graff uses pathos in a way that differentiates those that are street smart from those that are book smart. For example, he says,”What a waste, we think, that one who is intelligent about so many things in life seems unable to apply that intelligence to academic work.”(264, Graff). The way Graff phrases this makes it seem like street smarts are incomparable to being book smart. In other words a street smart person is viewed to be deficient in qualities that a book smart person already has. It is also clear that a dissolution between the two exists simply because street smarts cannot even relate into book smart pathways. Furthermore it shows that since street smarts do not amount to what society looks for, being book smart is more adequate. Graff effectively makes the reader question why a particular type of intellect is viewed as being inferior to that of another type just because it does not accommodate societal expectations.

By tying some loose ends, Graff also uses ethos as a way to connect his points as far as book and street smarts go. The proposition of developing one’s intellect without the use of an educational system goes against the grain for the way society is run, which is why Graff is steering college students to find their own path. For example Graff says, “That’s why a George Orwell writing on the cultural meanings of penny postcards is infinitely more substantial than the cogitations of many professors on Shakespeare or globalization”.(264,Graff). This shows that if students aren’t gonna put in a legitimate amount of effort into their textbooks, then their schools should have them pursue things that they are actually passionate about. This is clearly strengthening Graff’s arguments about intellectualism. The readers will typically trust him as he is living proof of what he is getting across. He was at a crossroad in his life in which he fits the description of a “clean cut book smart person” but did not correlate well with the “hood or athletic people”. (266, Graff), however he stood out due to his skin color. It takes a lot of strength to continue on with passions and pursuits when other circumstances get in the way and for Graff, he used that as motivation to keep going. Being a credible source to his own opinion, he states, “Students do need to read models of intellectually challenging writing if they are to become intellectuals themselves”. (265, Graff). Regardless, as a comeback he explains that a young individual who is street smart, “would be more prone to take on intellectual identities if the teachers encouraged the students to do so at first on subjects that interest them rather than the ones that interest the teachers”. (265, Graff).

With the help of logos the author is able to really grab the attention of the audience by saying, “When Marrilyn Monroe married the playwright arthur miller in 1956 after divorcing retired baseball star Di Maggio the symbolizes triumph of geek over jock suggested the way the wind was blowing”. Graff addresses this point simply to state that intellectualism is a beautiful thing and does not make an individual a nerd. Furthermore it points out that by putting effort into something and letting that creativity fly, knowledge becomes more abundant. Students learn more this way than by just sitting at a desk reading or studying about something they will ultimately forget. The very title of the piece gives away what the main focal point of the story is and that is finding the miscalculations within the education system and how it prohibits students from becoming passionate about the things they already like. If the entire class is disinterested in what the teacher is trying to explicate, then there is really no point in explaining it. Being unrestricted in an academic environment, where the way a subject matter is being taught makes the student want to engage more, is a concrete point that frankly all teachers should ensure their classes entail.

In conclusion, Gerald Graff aims towards college students in order to let them know about the different types of intellectualism found within today’s society. This shows that no matter who you are or what you believe in, intellect is abundant among everyone, even when you think it is not. Furthermore it inspires people to look deeper within themselves to establish a connection not with what others suggest, but with what they want and what they are passionate about. A street smart individual can be just as thought provoking as a book smart person in regards to what they can both bring to a discussion. Therefore, changes to the board of education should permit teachers to enhance their ways of teaching so that it will be more interesting and engaging for students.        

16 December 2021

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