In Gerald Graff’s “Hidden Intellectualism,” Graff argues that schools should encourage students to think critically, read, and write about areas of personal interest such as cars, fashion, or music but as long as they do so in an intellectually way. I happen to agree with Graff and his perspective for many different reasons. I personally believe that students should be giving the opportunity to engage intellectually with pop cultural topics that interest them and get to apply their “street smarts” to their academic work.
Teenagers can also relate to what’s going on in their own lives with the pop culture world. Sometimes it’s hard for teenagers to understand a certain topic but if teachers can explain it to them in a way that they can understand using pop culture, teachers should be allowed to do so. Pop culture should be allowed in the classroom as long as it’s used in an educational way and can help students learning. Graff talks a lot about “street smarts” in his essay. We all know someone who is “street smart” but they just don’t do to well in school and are unable to do well in academics.
Some people may feel that it’s a waste of intelligence and knowing so much about life isn’t going to help you academically. Graff feels that it’s not those students fault and those students can be helped. He states that “What doesn’t occur to us, though, is that schools and colleges might be at fault for missing the opportunity to tap into such street smarts and channel them into good Gonzalez 2 academic work” (pg. 380). Meaning schools and colleges should be held accountable for not being able to help those street smart teenagers and help turn their knowledge of life into academic work.
Teachers should help these students learn how to understand the academics their teaching them with examples of the street smart knowledge they already obtain. Personally, I feel that street smarts beat out book smarts in today’s world. Street smarts is something that’s real knowledge to me and can help someone in the future unlike book smarts where everything feels unreal. Graff’s speaks of his own experience in school and how he felt he was the typical teenage anti-intellectual. All throughout high school Graff hated reading and books.
The only thing he truly cared for was sports, and the only reading he did was reading sports magazines. Graff says “I have recently come to think, however, that my preference for sports over schoolwork was not anti- intellectualism so much as intellectualism by other means” (pg. 382). What Graff is saying here is just because he had rather choose sports over schoolwork doesn’t make him unintelligent it makes him smart but in a different way. I can personally agree with Graff. I’m not very interested in academic work but I grew up watching sports.
Sports are full of challenging debates, arguments, analysis, and statistics. You can debate which team is better so why not use that same tactic but a different topic. I remember being in class not doing my work and talking about football or basketball. If a teacher was to explain reading or writing to me with using sports as an example I probably would’ve understood what they were saying and succeed in school. Have teenagers analysis sports topic and have them relate to them and see if they agree or disagree with that sport topic.
Schools should create debates or arguments that teenagers can relate to. It will get teens to feel more involved and they might actually engage in the Gonzalez 3 conversation. We should be able to incorporate sport topics in school because not many students find educational topics very understanding or interesting. Teachers can easily use sports as a topic in every classroom discussion. Music in pop culture today has such a big influence on students. Everyone listens to at least some type of music any chance of the day they get.
One of the main influences is hip hop music. Hip hop is all over the radios and you can find it in at least the majority of student’s phone players, iPod, or even CDs. Music has a huge influence on myself, personally. Music helps me concentrate and even helps me learn academic material better. It even helps my mind grow and develop better. Music actually improves communication between the right and left sides of the brain, allowing you to gain better comprehension and memorization skills which develop your brain to a higher level.
Music has so much to do with metaphors and understanding lyrics and truly understanding the meaning of a song. It even helps to improve reading and comprehensive skills. Take Tupac Shakur for instance, his rap music has such meaningful metaphors which should be used in the classroom because they can truly help teenagers understand the meaning of a metaphor and students will actually be interested in the topic. Music is such a complex language that even incorporates mathematics, science, history, physical education, coordination, and even mental ability.
Most teenagers find hip hop artist like Tupac interesting because they can relate to Tupac’s music about daily life struggles about gangs, drugs and growing up in the “ghetto”. Since teenagers go through these struggles we should help give them something to relate to so they can know the real world isn’t perfect and a lot of people can be going through the same struggles as you. Gonzalez 4 Most people will disagree with the fact that schools should allow pop culture influences in education.
That schools are made for learning academics and nothing else, like pop culture, should influence anything not academic. An argument could be that pop culture is a bad influence and can send the wrong message to teenagers. For instance that sports can send the message of promoting violence and that teenagers should stick to their own personal friends and not communicate with other groups of people. It can cause tension in the classrooms over debates because not everyone has the same opinion about a certain team.
Or the simple fact that not everyone is interested in sports or have knowledge of sports and they don’t want teenagers to feel as if they don’t fit in. A lot of people will have negative comments about music in education and academics. Most will argue that music send the wrong message to teens. Some can even say rap music like Tupac exploits women and uses vulgar language. It promotes violence and criminal like activity. Which in some rap music and even Tupac’s music is true. He uses extreme vulgar language and talks about the “thug life”.
It even includes sexual conduct in his rapping. Some can even say hip hop music period is distracting and if we promote music in schools. Like this, it will promote teenagers to get the wrong idea about school and education. That teens will go out and join a gang, become sexually active, and do criminal like activity. Even though some teenagers have a hard life and can relate to this music we should not remind them of their personal life’s and keep everything strictly academic.
In conclusion, you can see that there is a positive and negative to having pop culture in today’s education. I personally feel that there should be a connection to education which Gonzalez 5 teenagers like I should be able to be interested in as long as it’s educational. Not everyone will have the same opinion as Graff and I so there should be an option to be able to take classes which you can use pop culture in your learning process or if you want to keep it strictly educational you should be able to as well.
Either way pop culture is huge to teenagers today. Everything from music, fashion, sports, TV and celebrities. Teenager’s world revolves around pop culture and if we want to keep teens interested in learning we should find ways, like using pop culture, to keep them interested. Works Cited Graff, Gerald. “Hidden Intellectualism. ” They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. Eds. Graff, Gerald, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russell Durst. New York: W. W. Norton and Co. , 2012. 380-87. Print.
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