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
paper on intellectual ideas if they genuinely don't understand how? Every student is
taught basic math, reading, and writing skills by the time they enter the sixth grade.
Then while they have barely survived the awkward years that have built up to
the ninth grade, you are expected to be able to write a standard five page essay and
you are expected to know basic grammar and spelling rules and there are so many
expectations that teachers assume you already know that they don't even take the
time to go over it.
Just because something is taught does not mean that it's been learned. Now
there are AP classes offered at most high schools for the accelerated students, and
that's so great for all of the students who are evidently knowledgeable and have a
bright future ahead of them, but what about the rest? What about the students who
still don't know how to summarize someone else's view and what about the
students who still don't know how to form an argument? How are they supposed to
know what they're supposed to know if no one ever teaches it to them in a way
they can understand?
"If students were given the chance to read and write about their own interests
first, they'd become more literate and reflective than they...