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The article “Hidden Intellectualism” by Gerald Graff is adapted from his 2003 book “Clueless in Academe: How Schooling Obscures the Life of the Mind.” In the article Graff critiques the approach schools take towards teaching literature. He disagrees that students with “street smarts” are not able to apply their knowledge in school. Consequently, he displays the idea that using different methods in school will allow students to succeed in their writing.
The purpose of the article is that “street smarts” should not be overlooked because in many cases they can offer more life skills than the education provided in school. Graff suggests that by allowing students to express their passions in their schoolwork, students will naturally become more interested in literature and more eager to thrive. Graff uses basic techniques in order to make his article easy to follow while still being effectively persuasive. Graff begins his essay by instantly allowing the reader to relate to the topic. He makes us realize that we all know people who may do poorly in school but have admiring skills and knowledge that they have attained outside of class. Further over, he reminds us of literature that most of us had to read in school such as, Plato, Shakespeare, and nuclear fission and then compares those to subjects most people enjoy more such as fashion and sports. Graff most likely wrote this article as a response to his adolescence and the struggles he faced growing up thinking he was anti-intellectual simply because his skills for writing did not shine through the topics he was expected to write about in school.
Strategically, Graff uses some facts from the past and offers some of his own experiences by applying pathos to validate his augment. This approach provides the article with a pleasant balance of different information, which makes it easier to persuade the reader. Mentioning the marriage between playwright Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe after she divorced famed jock Joe DiMaggio was efficient in proving that even sixty years ago the division between intellectuals and non-intellectuals was still prominent. Additionally, Graff grasps the reader’s attention and engages them in a more operational way by using events from his adolescence and relating it to modern day struggles that students currently face. Growing up Graff was torn between being a proud A+ student and proving to be tougher than the other boys. Even in modern day society children at school feel pressure to do well academically but inevitably feel held back due to the fact that they may be beat up if they are too smart. Graff appears more personal and more opinionated which significantly eases connecting with his argument and allows the audience to become emotionally connected and more prone to relate to his side of the debate. To conclude his article, Graff quotes Ned Laff as a way to present a more visual example, “The challenge is not simply to exploit students non academic interests but to get them to see those interest through academic eyes.”
Graff could improve his article by including more facts and statistics to boost credibility and imply that his essay is well funded and researched. Nevertheless the article was successful in getting the point across by using various effective writing methods and logical arguments. The article is easy to relate to and therefore leads the audience to believe non-academic topics should be allowed in classrooms. From my own experience I can back up Graff’s argument and claim that when I write about my passions, my work improves significantly. Although the little evidence Graff uses is mostly from the past, the education system in present day society is still the same and could still benefit from the improvements that Graff suggests.
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