Hidden Intellectualism

Essay by bananabrainsCollege, UndergraduateA, October 2014

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In one of my favorite essays, Hidden Intellectualism, by Gerald Graff, he

argues that schools and colleges might be overlooking the intellectual potential of

some students by typifying the intellectuals and the "street smart" students as

distinct and opposing roles.

It's possible that schools could be at fault for failing to spark enthusiasm for

intellectualism by not properly demonstrating its benefit as well as its equal ability

and worthiness in all fields.

If "street smart" students were given the opportunity to write on a subject

that interests them first, it would become easier for them to grasp basic concepts.

Graff reminisces on what it was like growing up in a time where it was seemingly

more crucial to appear to be "street smart" than it was to parade around the city as

an intellectual. He feared being unaccepted, even being physically beaten, by his

peers, and it left him feeling torn because he knew he had something to prove in the


He spent a lot of his time reading sports books and magazines, which later

helped him understand the beginning fundamentals of being successful in the

intellectual world. Graff is living proof that if a student can learn about something

that interests them first, they'll be more prone to channeling that into a way that will

allow them to succeed in the academic world and beyond.

I imagine it would be quite difficult for someone to sit at a piano and play

Beethoven's classical, most famous number had they only been to a few piano


The traditional educational system is designed so that each year when you

enter a new grade level, you are expected to know concepts you supposedly

learned in previous years.

How do teachers expect students to make an intelligent argument or write a...