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Gerald Graff Hidden Intellectualism Summary Essay

I have a friend who is great at working on cars. He was never taught or trained but he can name every part and its function, tell you what’s wrong and how to fix it, and spit endless facts about car brands that don’t even sound like English to me. However, he never did very well in school. Everyone, his teachers included, said that he lacked “book smarts,” and encouraged him to attend technical school for a mechanics certification rather than a university for a degree. This is very common and probably sounds sensible to you.

Gerald Graff, author of, “Hidden Intellectualism,” an article published in the riting guidebook They Say, I Say would disagree. Graff would probably fault my friend’s teachers for not using his interest in cars as a way to encourage academic thinking. Graff believes that street smarts can be used as a medium to reach higher levels of intellectualism. He asserts that usually they are not because, “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. In other words, we categorize subjects as either strictly academic or not, though there is no evidence or way to prove that a subject is ne or the other.

Graff explains that we consider interests in cars, sports, fashion, etc. as strictly non-academic, and therefore students interest in these subjects is not used to it’s full potential. He believes if teachers and professors would use these subjects to get students interested in academic processes like analyzing, writing, and arguing, they’d be much more likely to want to apply such processes to other subjects, even traditional ones.

He says that this could help them in adopting intellectual identities. Graff cites his own childhood as evidence of his theories. When rowing up, he lived in a neighborhood with different classes on each block. His block was made up of middle class people who felt the need to distinguish themselves from the lower class “hoods” on the next block. While he wanted to be seen as “clean-cut”, he also wanted the approval of the “hoods” who he saw at school and in the neighborhood, in order to avoid being beaten up. He says this internal conflict boiled down to either being tough or verbal.

He and his pals debated who was toughest, the fastest way to earn respect. Since he wasn’t the toughest, he resorted to the next best option, which was lliteracy. The 1950’s, he says, were divided on intellectualism, as was he. At the time, he loved sports and considered himself anti-intellectual, but over time he has changed his mind. He sees now that by debating about who was toughest or which movie was better, and analyzing sports teams and players, he was training his brain for intellectual thought though he was unaware of it.

He says the very things he thought made him an egghead were teaching him, “how to make an argument, weigh different kinds of evidence, move between particulars and generalizations, summarize the views of others, and enter a onversation about ideas,” all of which are undoubtedly academic skills. He believes his teachers are at fault for not using things students were interested in, like sports, to represent parts of intellectual culture and make it more exciting. While Graff believes teachers and professors should make an effort to include students “non-academic” interests, he also believes there is a right way to do so.

He acknowledges that if you just tell a student to write a paper about something they’re interested in, they will probably write poorly and not include any higher-level thinking. He quotes college professor Ned Laff who explains you must, “get them to see those interests through academic eyes. ” Basically, what both are saying is that its not enough to include subjects that are considered street smarts, you have to also encourage students to read/write about, analyze, and form arguments about them.

By doing so, students get interested in the processes and can apply them to less interesting topics. According to Graff, even if they only use the processes for subjects they’re interested in and never use the experience as a stepping-stone to something more intellectual, hey’re better off than they would have been. Graff believes the educational system is to blame for many students never becoming interested in anything academic because of the way they view non-academic interests. I agree with Graff’s way of thinking because I have seen it myself.

My friend who loves cars is a prime example. While it may be too late for him now, if his teachers had related cars to his work at school he may have been more interested in it and therefore done better. Why do you think so many school worksheets for children are themed around sports, movies, and games they enjoy? By making the schoolwork connect to something they already know is fun, you can peak a child’s interest and keep it, which can be difficult with their short attention spans.

I think Graff is correct in that we should continue this practice even among older children and adolescents. It just makes sense to me to do so. I also think that he made a great point when he explained that simply including the subjects students are interested in is not enough. I know this to be true because I have had several teachers ask my classes to write about their favorite thing and usually most of the papers re based on lower-level almost kindergarden-esque thoughts like, “football is my favorite thing because it is fun.

Using Graff’s understanding, students should be encouraged by teachers to think higher thoughts about these subjects such as, “why is football more fun than other sports? ” and, “how does football strengthen its players mentally? ” which I agree would keep their interest and teach them new skills at the same time. I think Graff stated his position very wellI. Using a story from his childhood gave his piece a personal touch and backed up his heory with some evidence. His examples made his explanation much easier to follow and understand.

While I didn’t know if I was going to agree with this article at first, I now support it completely. I think if educators read this, really took it to heart, and tried to put into practice the things Graff suggests, education could see a huge improvement in student participation, interest, and learning. I know I would have appreciated seeing at least some things I was interested in included at school, as opposed to coursework that was completely made up of old, bland material. Graff’s simple explanation of such a complex subject was enough to fully convince me.

While traditionally street smarts and intellectualism are viewed as completely separate and often mutually exclusive areas of skill, author Gerald Graff explains in his article, “Hidden Intellectualism,” this is not the case. He believes educators should include subjects that interest students and encourage them to view these subjects from an intellectual point of view. He says this will act as a medium to reach higher-level thought processes and help many students to develop intellectual dentities they would not with their typical schoolwork.

I fully agree with Graff and support his points, as he backs them up with evidence and I have seen them working in the real world, myself. I believe it would benefit many students and even the educators themselves if they read and practiced Graff’s theory. By working with what students are confortable with and like already, teachers could explain concepts more effectively and interest students in new things such as analysis and debate, they would have not otherwise paid any attention to.

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