In Hidden Intellectualism by Gerald Graff, it is clear that there is a huge difference between being ‘book smart’ (intellectualism) and being ‘street smart.’ From the essay, it is evident that intellectualism is not achievable only through proper or formal education in schools or colleges (Gerraf 5). People should consider other subjects such as sports and cars as shapers of intellectualism and this is can actually be discussed out in the streets. Street smart personalities can learn things outside of an academic environment for instance in their neighborhoods. Hidden intellectualism is therefore found in everyday life. People are intellectuals in very many ways and all they need to do is to tap on their own distinctive types of intellectualism and bring it into a classroom kind of setting. The larger implication of his ideas is that the street smart persons can translate all they know and how they reason and argue out their ideas in an intelligent way that can be equated to classroom intellectualism.
Even when it is true that intellectualism is very important, many people shun it and look down upon people who are considered book smart. These people are always labeled geeky or nerdy. This makes children become very afraid to show off their prowess just like Graff and they end up keeping that talent hidden within them. Children are always a target of bullying when others start labeling them. But if the school system could find ways of merging the street kind of thinking and reasoning with the more formal academic oriented way of doing things, then intelligent children can be accommodated and this will lead to bringing out the best out of them. This is so because both the academically gifted children and the street smart children can begin to acknowledge each other.
It is important to bring out hidden intellectualism into the more acclaimed academic intellectualism. This can be done by introducing academic approved vocabulary but at the same time maintain the same level of intellectualism which can be used for the sole purpose of meeting the non academic needs of the students. This can begin by identifying a unified kind of language that can fit into these two contexts, that is the classroom and the street. Even so then the students should put their focus on their intellectual part even when the language cuts across and is applicable on the streets (McLaughlin 23) . This will ensure that the students remain more academic oriented and this in the long run will bring out the intellectualism that is always suppressed by the more formal education that is used in all schools and colleges. If only their original ways of speaking could be accommodated in the school setup then there will be no struggling in trying to fit in into the school setting.
In the book Forever Illegal, Victoria Gallam brings in a different perspective to the whole issue about being book smart or street smart. She acknowledges the fact that the difference between the two comes out in way of intelligence and wisdom. She says that book smart persons become intelligent by way of reading books while street smart become smart by way of first hand experiences (66). According to her, the difference comes through the idea of wisdom. One can go to school and obtain education to highest levels but the education may fail to help them. This will therefore mean that these people will not be wise. On the streets, people learn the hard way without any formal help these people may end up being acclaimed intellectuals without much of an education. These people will be considered wise. Being knowledgeable and wise are two different entities. When the two are combined it brings book smart persons. In the case of being street smart, high levels of education my not apply as such. This therefore means when all the two are combined with wisdom, one is destined to become an intellectual whether academically or in the streets.
As a student, it is not easy working hard and not excelling or getting good grades. It is even demoralizing to see people without an education making it big in life. It makes one easily lose hope and venture into trying out life without going to school. This even leads to school dropouts. People who know how to speak their minds and pull out strings make good deals that give them the financial freedom that those who pursue education want to achieve. Pursuing financial freedom from the school perspective might last forever, long hours of studying, and lack of finances at times. In the street context, it becomes a lot easier to do a little talking a little research and hustle and voila, things work out and one pulls a deal that is worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars in an instant.
One thing that is very practical and good is teaching the learners on how to merge this intellectualism so as to bring the best out of children. It should start very early so as to tap the best and know how to influence the two. When street smartness is given focus in this venture, the children’s attention will be caught and maintained. At the same time, when youth culture is brought into the education system, it will be easier for them to transition thereby making the school learning process more accommodating and exciting. This will go a long way into helping children realize their intellect rather than letting them realize the talent tin them, this might take forever and for some, they may never realize that they are intellectuals.
Galan, Victoria. Forever Illegal. Pittsburg: Dorrance Publishing. 2013
Garraf, Gerald. Hidden Intellectualism. Web, 2001. Retrieved on 10th December, 2013. http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/pedagogy/v001/1.1graff.html
McLaughlin, Thomas. Street Smarts and Critical Theory: Listening to the Vernacular. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. 1996