Essay on Nerds vs. Street Smarts

Submitted By mfuller1772
Words: 1313
Pages: 6

Nerds vs. Street Smarts

Everyone has things they like. For some, it’s sports that hold their interest, for others it’s music or art, and for others it’s math or science. No matter what, everyone has interests and likes, things that just make them happy. School is not usually on that list though, for many different reasons. For the people who love learning are bullied and teased until they can’t stand going to school everyday. People who deviate from that though, they can find school boring and completely useless. How could we fix this? How could school become a place students look forward to going to every weekday? Two different authors write two pieces with almost completely separate ideas. Both must be considered to even begin to work at fixing the way school has become.

Gerald Graff, co-author of They Say/I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing and professor of English and education at the University of Illinois, begins his literary piece Hidden Intellectualism by lashing out at schools for discounting the valuableness of having “street smarts.” He goes on to recount his own childhood filled with sports and magazines about sports, explaining how he and his friends would analyze different teams based on what they had read. Is that not similar to what we are doing in class? We compare Shakespearean plays, books such as Animal Farm to Russia during the reign of Stalin, and the different effects that a chemical can have when reacting to a variable. We analyze and discuss all of these, just as sports fanatics do with their favourite players or teams. Graff even states in his own writing that it was the debates “with friends about toughness and sports, I think, and in my reading of sports books and magazines, that I began to learn the rudiments of the intellectual life.” He learned how to start up an argument and find convincing evidence to back up his claim. In my own opinion, Graff has a point. We all slowly learn how to make arguments instead of simply arguing as we grow and deal with friends whose thoughts differ from our own, or even enemies. We dig up proof to win, to prove whoever we are fighting with wrong. However, learning is difficult when we’re put into this tense atmosphere of school. We’re forced to learn things we don’t care about, things that don’t even hold a little bit of interest for us. We’re expected to care about things that really don’t matter much to us. School is a place where students go to head to head over a letter grade that comes from proving that one can retain information or grade-grubbing. “School competition, in short, reproduced the less attractive features of sports culture,” Graff asserts at one point, essentially summing up my entire reflection.

A world without academicians would certainly be a horrible world. No vaccines, computers, or electricity just to name a few things. When I read the title of Leonid Fridman’s article, America Needs Its Nerds, I couldn’t agree more! The world needs nerds! With this in mind, I find that I have several problems with this piece of writing. There’s nothing terrible in it, it’s a work that discusses how the United States is horrible when it comes to its anti-intellectual values. Professors in numerous other countries are highly respected and reward, however that is not true “in America, where average professional ballplayers are much more respected and better paid than faculty members of the best universities,” as Fridman insists. I agree at that point, the fascination Americans have with sports over has those professions becoming much more appealing materially, which could easily be a core problem for why education here is less than outstanding. Why go to college for years and deal with kids everyday for little pay when you could just play a sport and make millions? Of course, the situation is a bit deeper than just that, there’s skill in take in as well, but more kids would dream of becoming a