Hidden Intellectualism Summary


Intellectualism is often thought of as something that is only found in academic settings, or perhaps only among “serious” people. However, in his essay “Hidden Intellectualism,” Gerald Graff argues that intellectualism can be found in many everyday places and activities – we just need to know how to look for it.

For example, Graff notes that sports fans are often very knowledgeable about the statistics and history of their favorite teams and players. This knowledge requires a certain amount of critical thinking and analysis – intellectual skills that are not typically associated with sports fandom. Similarly, people who are passionate about fashion or music often have a deep understanding of the trends and history of their respective fields.

Graff argues that we should encourage more “hidden intellectualism” in our schools and workplaces. He believes that if we can find ways to tap into people’s interests and passions, we can help them develop stronger critical thinking skills. In turn, this will lead to a more intellectually rigorous society as a whole.

Intellectualism to Graff is being knowledgeable in many aspects of life not just one, he states “intellectuals are not people who know only “high” culture but also the lore of the streets and ballpark as well as that of the classroom and library. Intellectuals certainly read a lot, but they also talk a lot-to friends, family, colleagues, and strangers” (Graff). In other words, intellectuals are not only knowledgeable about what they learn in school or from reading highbrow books but they are also knowledgeable about everyday life experiences.

Graff believes that many people have hidden intellectualism because they think that in order to show how intelligent or how much knowledge they have, they need to use big fancy words or talk about highbrow topics when in reality that is not the case. Intellectuals can be found in all walks of life, they are the mechanics, the plumbers, the taxi drivers, and so on. These people might not have a lot of formal education but they know a lot about their line of work and they are very good at what they do.

Graff gives an example of his own hidden intellectualism, he says “I was a working-class kid from Chicago’s South Side who had gone to college and become a professor. I was also an intellectual, though it took me a long time to admit it, even to myself” (Graff). Graff did not realize he was an intellectual until he was much older, he thought that in order to be an intellectual you needed to have a lot of formal education and you needed to talk about highbrow topics but he soon realized that that was not the case.

Many people are afraid to show their hidden intellectualism because they think they will be ridiculed or made fun of, but Graff believes that we should embrace our hidden intellectualism. He says “It is time for us to stop ceding the ground of intellect to those who would restrict it and claim it as their own” (Graff). We should not be afraid to show our hidden intellectualism, we should be proud of it. Intellectuals come in all shapes and sizes, from all walks of life, and they are not just the people who sit in ivory towers, they are the everyday people who we interact with on a daily basis.

Smart pedestrians care about the topics they discuss and have a genuine passion for them. His belief is that schools should make an effort to incorporate non-academic material and subject study into their academic programs in order to entice and retain pupils interested. His ultimate conclusion: If youngsters become passionate about reading and writing term papers on topics that genuinely interest and speak to them, they will eventually be interested in more academically oriented material.

Intellectualism is not always found in academic settings or among people with high IQs. It is more about a way of thinking, being curious and open-minded. Intellectuals are not afraid to question things and to think for themselves. They are also able to see the world from different perspectives and to empathize with others.

Gerald Graff’s essay “Hidden Intellectualism” discusses the idea that there is more to intelligence than what is measured by IQ tests. He argues that intellectualism is not just something that belongs in the Ivory Tower; it can be found in everyday life and among people of all walks of life.

Graff begins his essay by recounting an incident from his own life. When he was in high school, he was considered to be a “street smart” kid. He hung out with the tough kids and was good at sports. However, he was also interested in things like literature and history. His English teacher told him that he was not “college material” and that he would never amount to anything.

Graff goes on to argue that there is more to intelligence than what is measured by IQ tests. He argues that intellectualism is something that can be found in everyday life and among people of all walks of life. He gives the example of a plumber who is able to solve complex problems on the job. This plumber has a kind of intelligence that is not measured by IQ tests.

Graff concludes his essay by arguing that schools should make more of an effort to nurture hidden intellectualism. He argues that if students are encouraged to explore their interests, they will eventually find interest in more academic subjects. This, in turn, will lead to higher test scores and better grades.

Graff discusses how his passion for sports pushed him into academic intellectualism as an adult. Graff claims that intellectualism should not be limited to “intellectual” academic disciplines, but that popular interests of students should be included in academic studies.

Intellectualism can be found and developed in many different areas other than just the traditional academic disciplines. Intellectuals should not only concern themselves with what is going on in their own little world, but should also be interested and invested in the popular culture around them.

Intellectualism does not mean that one must forego all other interests and pursuits in life – one can still be an intellectual and enjoy sports, movies, music, etc. What it does mean is that intellectuals should not dismiss or look down upon these popular interests, but instead try to understand them and see the value in them.

Intellectuals should also be aware of the world outside of their ivory towers and engage with it – after all, as Graff points out, many of the most important intellectual breakthroughs have come about not from academic research, but from people who were interested in and engaged with the world around them. Intellectuals should not only be interested in ideas, but also in the people who hold those ideas.


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