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Kayla McCray
English 101
Professor Bolton
22 October 2012
The Smart Kids have it Tough
In the article Anti-Intellectualism: Why We Hate the Smart Kids, Grant Penrod argues
that our society looks down on intelligent people. Throughout the article, Penrod gives several
examples to help support his argument of giving smart people a hard time: praise for academic
achievement is not received, people using social media attest to societys distaste for
intellectuals, social stereotypes are experienced in schools, and famous role models are looked
up to for dropping out of school. Grant Penrod concludes that teenagers are easily influenced
by media images that drop out of school, making them think that education is not as important
as making money. Consequently, an abundant number of teenagers who have the mindset that
intelligence is not important, carry on this opinion up to their adult years: Indeed, Americans
seem enamored with wealth at the expense of intellectualism. Unfortunately for them, this
supposed negative correlation between brains and buying power doesnt even exist (Penrod
756). Penrod observes and concludes that the effects *of anti-intellectualism] are clear and
devastating; society looks down on those individuals who help it to progress, ostracizing its best
and brightest. Some may blame television or general societal degradation for the fall of the
educated, but at heart the most disturbing issue involved is the destruction of promising
personalities (757). Although I agree with Penrod that intelligent people are not looked up to
as much as they should be, I disagree that they are not praised for being intellectual.

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In our society, famous people are looked up to over successfully intelligent people. A big
reason for society choosing popularity over intelligence is the way media portrays people.
Teenagers of this generation are constantly up to date with the most popular athletes, singers,
dancers and actors. Penrod supports the idea that social media encourages unintelligence and
has a strong influence on young people in our generation because of the money: the
aforementioned examples of uneducated success are even further entrenched by the
prodigious wealth of the celebrities involved (756). Penrod gives a good example of Sammy
Sosa making eighteen million dollars by just being a skillful athlete and explains that this
persuades teenagers to practice and strive to become an excellent athlete and put education
and intelligence on the back burner: In the eyes of an ever-watchful public, just the existence
of such amazingly affluent yet strikingly uneducated individuals would seem to call into
question the necessity and even legitimacy of intellectualism (756). Many teenagers first
priority is making a lot of money; when they see that people they look up to are making
thousands by just being in the entertainment field, they quickly have the determination to just
follow in their idols footsteps (even if it means not following through with their education). The
motivation of students in school has become a huge issue in our generation; this issue is not
getting any better due to the social media and its tendency to flaunt the success of people who
have never finished school. Furthermore, Penrod makes the assumption that public figures,
such as modern celebrities, originate the idea that intelligence is not a key factor for success:
Certainly the image presented by modern celebrities suggests that intellectualism has
no ties to success and social legitimacy . With such well-known cultural icons as
Christina Aguilera, Kid Rock, L. L. Cool J., and Sammy Sosa qualifying for such a list, any

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drive toward intelligence or education becomes laughable in the eyes of mediainundates young people. (755)
Penrod argues that public figures have a negative impact on teenagers motivation to improve
their intelligence, and he could not be anymore correct. Our generation now revolves around
social media and modern celebrities; therefore, it would not hurt for the media to flaunt
successful people in the industry who have put their education as a priority. If the social media
put forth an effort in advertising the importance of education, our school system would greatly
Furthermore, even though I agree that intellectualism is not flaunted as much as it
should be, I disagree that intelligence is looked down upon in schools. Penrod supports the idea
that athletes are supported more than academic clubs:
The football players enjoyed the attentions of an enthralled school, complete with
banners, assemblies, and even video announcements in their honor, a virtual barrage of
praise and downright deification. As for the three champion academic teams, they
received a combined total of around ten minutes of recognition, tacked onto the
beginning of a sports assembly. (754)
Penrod claims that academic achievement is not supported as much as an athletes win, but I
have attended three high schools in my high school career and never experienced this issue in
any of them. All of the high schools I was a part of, highly recognized students with academic
achievement and even praised them by making them a student of the month, giving them free
desert, and congratulating them by holding a ceremony. Schools do hold pep rallies for sport
events, but this is just to pump up the team and give them an adrenalin rush so that they can

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bring home a win. In addition, banners are made as well but this is before the schools game
just to pump up the team and motivate them to win. To conclude, the banners and assemblies
have nothing to do with the winning or losing of the schools team, but for the schools spirit
and motivation for the team. In addition, Penrod also makes the point that high school is
known for peers to make fun of intelligent students: Perhaps the most obvious cause of antiintellectualist tendencies, harmful social stereotypes begin to emerge as early as in high school.
The idea of the geek or nerd of the class is familiar one to most students and it is not a
pleasant one (755). I do not agree with his assumption that high school students judge and
look down on a student who does well in school; this statement is very broad and high school
students are young adults and are more mature than that. In a way, Penrod is contradicting
himself by saying that high school students stereotype their intelligent peers because he is
stereotyping high school students by generalizing them and stating that they are all judgmental.
Bullying has always been an issue in school, but I have never encountered a person getting
made fun of because they are in AP classes and make good grades, especially in high school. In
addition, students who are intelligent are praised and encouraged by their peers. I disagree
with Penrods argument that high school gives more acknowledgements toward athletes than
academic achievers and also that nerds are made fun of by their peers.
Penrods argument that intelligent people are not idolized as much as they should be is
accurate, but his discussion of nerds being downgraded in school is not strongly supported
and is incorrect. Intelligent people in our generation may not receive the idolization of a
modern celebrity, but that does not mean that they are demoted and bullied at school.
Intelligent students in high school are exalted, our generations social media just needs to step

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up and proclaim successful and intelligent people. If our generations young adults see that
intelligence is an imperative factor in being successful, they may strive to greaten their
knowledge and become an intellectual rather than follow their public figures footsteps.

Work Cited
Perod, Grant. Anti-Intellectualism: Why We Hate the Smart Kids. The Norton Field Guide to
writing with Readings and Handbook. 3rd ed. Richard Bullock, Maureen Daly Goggin,
and Francine Weinburg. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2013. 754-757. Print