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Response on Essay “Hidden Intellectualism


In the essay “Hidden Intellectualism”, Gerald Graff argues that there is a possibility of some form of hidden intellectualism besides the traditional academic intellectualism. He further advances that this form of intellectualism is concealed in under the mask of usual discussions about fashion, sports, pop-stars and many other aspects (Dana, 2010). I agree with Gerald Graff’s point of view because there are actually some young people who do not do well academically but excel in extra-curricular activities such as sports. These individuals may be said to possess a form of intellectualism that is concealed. This essay will critically examine how Gaff’s ideas on Hidden Intellectualism can be applied to modern day education system. I will the benefits as well as its shortcomings of the presence of obscure intellectualism when applied to students learning process.


One of the key strengths of the essay is that it has a captivating introduction. Graff has used an eye-catching introduction with an intriguing example of Michael Warner’s transformation and intellectualism as the main theme. One reasonable and interesting argument is that of intellectual conflicts being better than fights and violence using guns. On a similar note, conflict situations may arise due to having varying views on a given subject. In cases where conflicting parties fail to settle the issue through reasoning and argument, an outlet for a fight is created by the resultant portion (Dana, 2010). This argument presented is intriguing since it is clear that intellectual conflicts have their merits as well as demerits. This necessitates encouraging intellectuals to acquire relevant skills of argument and conflict resolution.


Graff also argues that intellectualism is good, and that schools ought to encourage learners to read, think critically and write about their fields of personal interests like fashion, music or cars (Dana, 2010). I however hold the view that what is good for some individuals may have a negative impact on others. Moreover, asking students to merely write about their interests may not necessarily help them to acquire intellectual skills. I believe that intellectualism is partly an inborn trait, which Graff has. Due to this fact, non-intellectual activities such as debates and sports helped Graff to develop his intellectual potentiality. It can be argued that there are some people who lack the ability to come up with logical arguments and points of view after reading articles or magazines. It is therefore essential to consider each individual to evaluate their intellectual capabilities.


Through Graff’s theory of street smarts is significantly beneficial because it creates insight on the critical issue of excluding social life from academic situations, this can not necessarily be an indication that academic knowledge is less important than street smarts. I agree with Graff’s on the need to incorporate street smarts in traditional academic intellectualism (Graff, 2001). It is evident that by incorporating both academic and social importance, a novel world of opportunity can be opened to learners. When students are given a chance to write about research topics that they are interested in, they would be able to learn more about the subjects linked to their social lives in addition to attaining the benefits of classroom knowledge.


Additionally, I think students should be given a chance to pursue their personal interests. They should not be forced to do something beyond their own will. Human beings are autonomous beings who are able to make choices or decisions independently. Therefore giving students a chance to write on the topics that interest them once in a while is beneficial to their personal as well as intellectual growth. Despite this fact, balancing the two aspects is essential. The social aspect should not outweigh the academic aspect and vice versa.


Graff’s gives his personal experience on how reading intellectually and challenging writing enabled him to transform from being street smart to an intellectual. He thus encourages colleges and schools to teach learners the essence of reading intellectually challenging writings and coming up with sound arguments (Dana, 2010). Graff seems to overlook the fact that every individual is unique and different in one way or the other. What is applicable to Graff may be inapplicable to another person. Despite this opposition, I agree with Graff’s idea of giving students who are street smart an opportunity to apply their co-curricular skills in academic work.


An aspect that Graff fails to consider is the cultural aspect. Based on his experience, it is clear that Graff originated from a culture that valued entertainment and sports (Graff, 2001). For this reason, Graff realized that he would encounter ridicule if his main point of interest were academic subjects. Hence, he decided to un-tap his hidden intellectualism linked to extracurricular activities like sports (Graff, 2001). Well, Graff situation may not apply to everyone. There are some people who come from cultural settings put more value on academic subjects than sports. It is evident that Graff did not account for such individuals in his argument. He argues that academic knowledge can hinder social life, and concludes that sports as a topic is a much better interest. This is not always true especially in a society that values education and the need to acquire academic intellectualism (Meier, 1995).


Generally, Gerald Graff’s essay, “Hidden Intellectualism” has both negative and positive influences. The first positive aspect is that it enables the reader to gain knowledge and understanding of the meaning of intellectualism, its merits and demerits. Graff therefore achieved the goal of imparting insight and awareness on intellectualism as a subject. On the contrary, there are some points argued by Graff, which are rather disagreeable. For instance, the essay gives an implication of intellectualism being undoubtedly beneficial but fails to give reasons supporting the fact.


Different people have different interests, which imply that what applies to one individual may be inapplicable to other people under similar circumstances. Too much of the author’s personal experience ahs been presented in the essay. Graff’s personal experience can not be termed as a general pattern. On a similar note, the author’s personality development took place in the 1950s, and the current realities are to some extent different from the realities that were relevant fifty years down the line. The factors that influenced Graff as an adolescent may have a varying influence on adolescents of the current era.


Perhaps Graff’s could have talked more about his peers who were also street smart so that the reader could find out whether they also became intellects like Graff.In conclusion, I agree with Gerald Graff that it is beneficial to encourage any form of intellectualism. However I disagree with his view that any student who is street smart can later one become an intellectual.


 Works Cited

Dana, Wilson. Summary of Gerald Graff’s Essay, “Hidden Intellectualism, June, 2010

Retrieved from on April 19, 2011.

Graff, G. Hidden Intellectualism. Pedagogy 1.1, 2001, pp21-36. Retrieved from on April 19, 2011

Meier, D (1995) The Power of Their Ideas: Lessons from a Small School in Harlem. Boston: Beacon.


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