Street Smart Versus Book Smart

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Street Smart versus Book Smart
In his article "Hidden Intellectualism," Gerald Graff criticizes those that do not put value into "street smarts." Graff says that knowledge goes far beyond academic learning and continues into our everyday living. He states, "The need to prove I was smart and the fear of a beating if I proved it too well." Meaning that if the subjects he enjoyed the most became his main interest he would soon have to face ridicule for wanting to be himself (Graff).

Graff's theory of street smarts is extremely useful because it sheds some light on the difficult problems of social life being excluded from academic situations. Although he’s not saying that street smarts are more important than academic knowledge, he is stating that subjects should be seen through “academic eyes”. For example if you give a college student an eight page essay to write on a topic interest of their own, not only will they understand it but can relate it to their everyday social life. Students do need to read pieces of intellectually challenging writing if they are to become intellectuals themselves.

Overall schools have a stereotypical view of intelligence, but need to realize intelligence isn’t limited to book smarts. “They would be more prone to take on intellectual identities if we encouraged them to do so at first on subjects that interest them rather than ones that interest us”, Graff says. Students would start out on a better foot and acquire a substantial amount of motivation first by reading and analyzing subjects that inspire them rather than some boring subjects like Shakespeare or Orwell (Graff). Graff is absolutely right when he says “street smarts beat out book smarts in our culture”, because street smarts satisfy the intellectual craving better than school culture. In this day and age where our culture values sports and entertainment, Graff believed that knowledge would hold us back from a social life, yet he still argues the fact that sports is a...
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