What is Up? Graff’s Book
In his book “They Say I Say. Hidden Intellectualism” Graff is focused on the pedagogy issues that are related to the bringing up the new generation of people who are convinced in the priorities of living and thinking in an intellectual way. The ideas expressed by Graff are useful from many points of views, especially in the context of formation ideals in the new generation. Graff is convinced that every issue in modern life, even in the frames of our consuming world can be discussed and regarded intellectually. In his opinion, the task of education is to make youth thinking in the other, upper, or so called “bookish” way.
Some researchers can agree or disagree with the author. But let’s find out the reasons why his opinion is like this. Modern world is tending to be more consuming day by day. The way of consuming thinking is simple, and it does not take much of effort from the side of brain. For example, people are just thinking about food, sex and entertainment, but not about minds work. Modern youth is much attracted to cool devices, like iPads or iPhones. They can hardly live without fashionable clothes, and this is regarded as a way to express their superficial attitude to others. Young people are not concerned much about their brain thinking, as they like to enjoy parties, dating, attending some rock, rap, or heavy metal fan clubs. Some even use drugs that may easily lead to the total self destruction. Students of the modern world are not ready to enjoy cultural artifacts of the past centuries, even with the other ideals of beauty from the past, unlike from that are dictated by Hollywood. This manipulation of mass consciousness, especially as if regarded to youth is very dangerous, especially in the context of massive mass-media manipulation. Young people are just victims of this consuming world that is grounded on money and unsustainable desires.
Is There a Way Out?
Graff strongly believes that there is some way out of a difficult situation with the youth nowadays. The way out is not really to improve their amount of knowledge but in improving their willingness to the self-education that when formed in the very young age, will serve educated people in the future. In Graff’s opinion, youth should be taught to learn and gain knowledge from good books that are checked for validity and reliability with the time passing by. Intellectuality does lies in the “bookish” subject matter. Teachers should advise their students to gain knowledge and experience from Plato or Socrates books, the founders of western piece of philosophy. It would be no less useful to read Shakespeare who presented dramatic life in all aspects that are of great actuality nowadays, and will be very interesting after many years in the future. I agree with Graff in his point of view that discussing of Plato, Shakespeare, French Revolution, nuclear fusion are ok for young people who can develop their intellectual endeavors this way. But it is not ok when they discussing day by day about cars, fashionable clothing, modern gadgets, sports, dating, fake religions, TV or Internet games. These talks are useless, and games specifically are much destructive for the young generation. Sure, they cannot be banned, but used minimally, if we want to save the world from moral and intellectual destruction.
Graff presents the opinion of Thomas McLaughin expressed in his book “Street Smarts and Critical Theory: Listening to the Vernacular” (1996). Graff is in solidarity with Mclaughin’s opinion that Elvis fan clubs members, sitcom viewers, advertising copywriters, and even Sothern Christian anti pornography activists cannot live comfortably without their worldview. Graff supports the point of view that every person should develop their intellectual skills according to their mind abilities. The author suggests making the first step in education endeavors to attract young people to value intellectualism that is hidden inside them.
In Graff’s point of view, “inside every street-smart student (which is to say every student) there is a latent intellectual trying to break out, an identify that is my job to somehow to tease out and help to articulate itself.” (Graff 2003: 23). This means that the author supports the view that the task of every teacher is to help this hidden intellectualism to break out. This will help to change the way of thinking for better.
Graff points out that nowadays not many people make use of their brain. That is why educators “need to pay more attention to the extent to which adolescent lives” (Graff 2003: 22), and make judgments according to the life style of young people who are involved in discussing, but on the simplified level. They have no necessity to argue about cultural and political topics that are of great actuality nowadays. Instead, they are arguing about rock bands or fashionable designs, or maybe relations with girls/boys. The simplified way of thinking is the result of not only the current time, and it is caused in major by inappropriate education. Graff states: “Kids who argue with passion about rock bands don’t necessarily see the point of arguing about a Shakespeare sonnet, a social or psychological theory, or the mind-body problem” (Graff 2003: 31). In addition, “they don’t necessarily see the point of arguing about rock bands in the intellectualized ways and vocabularies in which academics and cultural journalists argue about popular culture or anything else” (Graff 2003: 31-32). If this situation is common, so day by day young people will not have the desire to study essential things that will help them to understand life and cultural experience better.
In order to help hidden intellectualism to come through the boundaries of their minds, young people should take efforts, and the task of good educators is to help them. The crucial task of modern education is to clarify the priorities for every one of those who attend lectures or practice their skills. Those who want to know would always find a good way to get to know. And even more, those who want to be educated personalities would realize that intellectual discussions will help to develop a personality in the right way.
Hidden Intellectualism in Modern U.S. Context
Nowadays young people live not those good times, as for many aspects of life, in comparison with their parents or grandparents. The world has changed significantly, when compared with what is described in old century’s books. Knowledge nowadays is not regarded as something that is useful, and even intellectual discussions among youth are very rare.
Although there is chance that people would realize that the role of education matters much in the modern context, so that to create ideals for young people who are in need of basic values. The thing is not only about defending civil rights or just rearranging the world view. The problem of willingness to study and develop skills is important issues. If the youth has a desire to learn more, they can reveal their hidden intellectualism and make their dreams come true.
Those who have a desire to manage their time efficiently can do very much for personal and social progress. Graff strongly believes that young people can discuss every topic at a higher intellectual level, so that not only look like highly educated, but also being personalities first of all.
Every personality obtains some knowledge about the outer world. All of we are watching some news, some movies, and plus we are reading books. Some like fiction, and others some documentaries or art-house. Graff’s point of view is in some way restricted by the “bookish” way of thinking like books enriches mind with good vocabulary that is useful for intellectual discussions. In any case, in my opinion, in order to reveal their hidden intellectualism, young people can also watch movies or documentaries, or they can also involve some discussion clubs to seek for intellectual enjoyment. No matter what they do to reveal their hidden intellectualism, they should try their best and enjoy the process. It will help them to become leaders whose opinion is valuable in the society. This is also can be called American dream.
Graff, Gerald. Hidden Intelectualism. EBSCO Publishing. 2003. Web.
Mclaughlin, Thomas. Street Smarts and Critical Theory: Listening to the Vernacular. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. 1996. Print.