Hidden Intellectualism By Gerald Graff Essay

Kyle Cooke


September 5, 2103


In Hidden Intellectualism, Gerald Graff begins with the age-old argument of the difference between “book smarts” (intellectualism) and “street smarts.”  Graff explains that in many cases, these book smarts can take various forms and hide in what people call street smarts, hence the “hidden” intellectualism. For him, he realized that he was intellectually gifted when he noticed that he was using reason and argumentative strategies while discussing sports with friends. Graff describes that through his arguing and reasoning, he was showing his intellectual side. He also gives the reader another example of the discovery of hidden intellectualism by telling the story of Michael Warner, a man who also realized his intellectual side through his arguing except instead of sports, he was arguing the Christian Pentecostal views of his parents.

Graff then transfers to a bit of a darker tone by discussing that intellectualism is often looked down upon and is labeled as being nerdy or geeky.  He explains that as a kid, he was afraid to show his intellectual side in fear that he would be the target of name-calling and bullying so he suppressed that side of him. However, by continuing to talk about sports (the cool stuff) he was just building upon his hidden intellectualism.

Lastly, Gerald Graff describes to the reader how important it is to teach this intellectualism to kids who do not notice the intellectualism inside of them. By bringing youth culture into the curriculum, Graff explains, the kids can make an easier transition into more intellectual subjects. He goes further that by saying that if kids can passionately argue about sports, music, and pop culture then they can hopefully channel that passion to discuss classic works of literature and other more scholarly subjects.  He closes by saying that helping kids become an intellectual rather than just finding it within themselves is still a work in progress.

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In “Hidden Intellectualism,” Gerald Graff pens an impressive argument wrought from personal experience, wisdom and heart. In his essay, Graff argues that street smarts have intellectual potential. A simple gem of wisdom, yet one that remains hidden beneath a sea of academic tradition. However, Graff navigates the reader through this ponderous sea with near perfection.
The journey begins at the heart of the matter, with a street smart kid failing in school. This is done to establish some common ground with his intended audience, educators. Since Graff is an educator himself, an English professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago, he understands the frustrations of having a student “who is so intelligent about so many things in life…show more content…

It appears that Graff forgot the most important thing about comedy, timing. Hence, his punch line is wordy and dated. In this age of computers, where even hand written letters are in danger of becoming extinct, many readers may not know what a penny postcard is. Although the punch line fails to deliver, the reader can still understand the gist of what Graff is implying. Thus, it does not detract from the overall effectiveness of his argument, but it does show his age; a tactic that Graff intentionally repeats as support for his next major point. Although students need examples of intellectually challenging literature, Graff believes that students who tackle literature from their own interests first are more likely to read the challenging ones. In support of this belief, Graff offers his own experiences from his adolescent years beginning in the late nineteen forties. In which, Graff describes himself as a typical anti-intellectual teen caring only for sports and sports related literature (381). He continues by describing his multicultural neighborhood, in post-WWII Chicago, where he recounts the difficulties of trying to appease all the different social groups, while avoiding a beating from the hoods and maintaining a respectable future (382). These expositional paragraphs are the setup to a logical conclusion on the horizon and help to increase the emotional connection with his readers. However, they also establish an impressive amount of credibility. Since, the


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