“Hidden Intellectualism” is the article written by the Gerald Graff. He wrote very impressive arguments in this article. Most of the argument he made are from his personal experience. He almost immediately reveals the main argument in the beginning of the article. He describes that how street smart, a kid who might not good in academics but maybe knowing other good skills or knowledge is not less than the one who is academically smart. As Graff puts it, “we associate the educated life, the life of the mind, too narrowly exclusive with subjects and texts that we consider inherently weighty and academic,” (Graff 2), By this he simply states that street smart is too often overlooked in schools and colleges because the education system sees them as anti-intellectual.
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The story begins with struggle faced by modern young persons. Some of them are street smart failing in schools but are good in other than that. The author then describes a piece of his "anti-intellectual" childhood which explains that how his interest in sports played important role in shaping his academic life. He grew up in Chicago and when he was in primary school, he was never interested in reading books provided to him in class but instead, he was more interested in reading sports illustrated magazines and other sports articles. According to him, it really helped him to improve his skills and knowledge in sports related activities. Graff built this argument using proper structure and tactics due to which the point he wanted to make among audience came out precisely. The whole article is long but written in a conversational tone which keeps readers engaged into the story without getting bored. Graff gave decent information about his past experiences in order to provide support to his stance “Though I too thought I didn't 'did the intellectual bit', I see now that I was unwittingly in training for it... I was practicing being an intellectual before I knew what I wanted to be". (Graff 9)
He also makes argument that “schools and colleges might be at fault for missing the opportunity to tap into street smarts and channel them into good academic work” (Graff1). According to him, some people think that the only people who have knowledge about Shakespeare, Plato, Nuclear Fission, French Revolution are intellectual and those who understand dating, TV, fashion, sports, video games are not intellectual.
According to me, the article has both positive and negative aspects. The main argument is pretty solid and clearly delivers his thoughts to the readers. Also the logic is straight to the point without any gaps in it. But i think he didn’t give proper conclusion to the writing. He keeps informing us about something we already know again and again and does not provide any solution about it. Apart from that he is successful in describing what is going on inside his mind.
Graff is targeting on education board, school and college faculties for not providing students a chance to learn things which they are interested in. He seems to show some frustration towards the way he was being taught in the school According to him, the schools and colleges are missing opportunity to understand student’s intelligence and skills which can be helpful for grasping things into their head easily and make them more engaged towards academics. He looks sarcastic and provided rhetorical techniques to support his argument that if educational institutes will provide students a chance to learn their choice of interest along with academics, then they would surely develop both their complex thinking and writing skills even though they might not smart enough in academics.
Graff grew up in Chicago post world war 2. He used to live near place where the middle class and jobless people were just a few blocks away from it. “I was desperate for the approval of the hoods, which i encountered daily on the playing field in the neighborhood, and for this purpose, it was not all good to be book smart.”(Graff 6) The people of hood were so jealous of the book smart people that they were always harassing them. The Graff grew up in the situation in between the need to prove his smartness as well as fear of beating if he proves it too well.
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Graff has used many real life examples in his writing which might have actually faced by his readers or the ideas which they have thought of before. It helps audience to connect more deeply and engage them with the conversation. “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 were full of challenging arguments, debates, problems for analysis and intricate statistics that you care about, as school conspicuously was not”. (Graff 11) By this statement he describes the pros of being sports person. He finds it more intellectual then school. People can learn so many things out of it such as how to make challenging arguments, how to analyze the problems etc. Also when you indulge into the sports debates, you are no longer making your opinions in small group of people such as your friends, family but to the whole nation and public. Whereas schools only give you a chance to make your voice heard in certain group of people.
In order to conclude the analysis, I feel like the writer was successful in explaining his thoughts to the audience in the clear way but he should have also focused on explaining the solution for the problem he describe. He ended the writing with simple example “If a student cannot get interested in Mill’s On Liberty but will read Sports illustrated or Vogue or the hip-hop magazine Source with absorption, this is strong argument for assigning the magazine over the classic.” (Graff 18) Also even if they don’t get on Liberty, at least the magazine reading will provide them some knowledge. It is better to learn something than nothing.
Graff, Gerald. “Hidden Intellectualism” They Say: I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing by Gerald Graff. 01-18.
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