Theme of Discussion
Gerald Graff argues the difference between “book smarts” and “street smart” to explains the “hidden intellectualism.” He discussed how important it is to teach intellectualism to children who do not notice the intellectualism inside their minds.
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Article Central Argument
In Hidden Intellectualism, Gerald Graff argues that under the common situation, those “book smarts” can hide in “street smarts” in various forms. Therefore it is “hidden intellectualism.” He also argues that the importance of teaching children intellectualism to guide their transition into more intellectual subjects. Helping children become intellectuals, rather than just finding knowledge within themselves, is still a work in progress, he concludes.
Article Supporting Evidence/Examples
The essay is titled “Voice Literary Supplement” by Michael Warner (Graff, 21). Graff also mentioned a book by Thomas McLaughlin titled “Street Smarts and Critical Theory: Listening to the Vernacular” (22). Moreover, the author presents his own experience depicted in the essay “Disliking Books at an Early Age,” where he outlines his journey of hating to read towards a fascination with books he developed in college (Graff 31).
Three questions you have with respect to the article
- How can educators balance between the traditional approach to intellectualism and the one explained by Graff to support the interests of their students and help them succeed at school?
- Should the educational system nationwide be transformed to allow more freedom for students and enable them to choose which subjects or areas of interest they want to pursue? Additionally, how may this be implemented in regards to student’s age and the need for them to master specific subjects?
- Is criticism voiced by T.E. and presented in Graff’s article valid, and therefore, can reading, critical analysis, and debate be the only appropriate way of helping hidden intellectuals?
This essay argues that Graff’s work is extremely valuable to understanding the hidden potential or hidden intellectualism of each student and provides many examples of the “street smarts” that can actually be “book smarts.” Firstly, according to Graff, the capabilities of individuals are not always recognized since “students’ intellectual abilities go overlooked by schools because they come in unlikely packages” (22). In the example Graff provides, the author mentions Michael Warner and his life journey, since Warner began his studies by focusing on religion and proceeded to graduate from Oral Roberts University. The primary idea presented through this story is the fact that intellectualism can be uncovered if the educational system was able to overlook its standards and engage in non-traditional methods and approaches. As Graff further explains in his essay, this idea is not unique or novel since many have recognized that a lot of student’s potential is not supported or recognized by schools (23). Therefore, while traditional strategies of education are valid, more attention should be dedicated to leveraging student’s intellectualism that arises from their interests, even those that may be perceived as not intellectual.
The main mistake made by many educators is the focus on a specific set of sources that enable intellectualism. Graff explains that these can be books that focus on scientific matters or explore serious topics (24). However, students may be interested in other important subjects, which will help them succeed in the future when they begin their professional careers. Based on the author’s experience, Graff notes that “inside every street-smart student (which is to say, every student) there is a latent intellectual trying to break out, an identity that it is my job somehow to tease out and help to articulate itself” (22). Moreover, in the article, Graff mentioned his experience as a student, having difficulties with learning subjects such as history or literature because of the way they were presented. This is a dangerous practice that leads to a lack of recognition of the intellectualism that a student has, which can affect their future. Therefore, the focus on solely academic subjects does not allow students interested in other fields to develop their capabilities as thoroughly. Overall, Graff’s experience, both as a student as an educator presented in the article, allows understanding the hidden potential of each individual.
Graff, Gerald. “Hidden Intellectualism.” Pedagogy, vol. 1, no. 1, 2001, pp. 21-36.
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