Sample English Essay Paper on Anti-Intellectualism: Why We Hate the Smart Kids


In schools, there are a distinguishing characters that are categorized in individual groups; for instance, jocks, popular kids, rebels as well as nerds. A fascinating way to analyze these groups is through how they feel when labeled in retrospect to their social behavior. In an essay titled Anti-Intellectualism: Why we hate the Smart Kids? Grant Penrod argues under the premise that ‘nerds’ are negatively judged on their intellectualism. Going through the essay it is evident that Penrod finds it unfair to judge an individual based on the fact that they have good grades, are part of advance placement classes or spend their time to sharpen their intellectual status. The tone is harsh from the first paragraph of the introduction; however as the essay progresses it is evident that the society has taken a negative almost mediocre view towards the intelligent. Going through the essay highlights the need to understand the issues of anti-intellectualism


            The phenomenon of social class has been discussed for ages through a variety of institutes and societies. Through research it has been argued by a variety of social experts such as Hofstadter schools stand out as the institutes that portray most aggressive social order in today’s communal world (45). A single school has four primary kids of social classes the first are ‘jocks’. This group is made of athletes mostly football players. They are aggressive and dominate the social seen as the ‘cool kids’ dressed in coveted letterman jackets. The other kids are the popular kids. This group is made up of the privileged kids not necessarily through sports but through financial and family status. The third group is known as the rebels. These students are known for their lack of respect for any law social or academies. They are indifferent to anything that goes on around them and are feared by most. The last group are the nerds. These group is known for their excellence in academics. These students perform well in tests and are knowledgeable. The interesting part about all the above groups is that the nerds are the ones considered as social outcast. This phenomenon is what is termed as ‘Anti-intellectualism’. Howley defined Anti-intellectualism as the “opposition to or hostility towards intellectuals, or to an intellectual view or approachs” (67).   

From the essay presented by Grant Penrod it is evident that the society in this case the school provides a foundation that promotes Anti-intellectualism. Mountain View High School welcomes the football team’s victory with “complete with banners, assemblies, and even video announcements in their honor, a virtual barrage of praise and downright deification” (Penrod 759). On the other hand, the school recognizes the “three champion academic teams, through a combined total of around ten minutes of recognition, tacked onto the beginning of a sports assembly” (759). The school clearly underplays academic excellence a factor that denotes the efforts of the nerds to almost mediocre status. To him there is a presence that would suggest individuals   such as ‘The seniors’ as he put it who distance themselves from nerds. Penrod argues that schools are the primary cause that the intellectuals or nerds in this case of our society are dwarfed, ignored, and even loathed by the rest of society. He indicates that there primary of reason that are indicative of Anti-intellectualism the first being social stereotyping which is indicative of a school’s social structure.

Public Stereotypes

The society has a perspective that nerds are in actuality show off. “A+ this and. . . got a 1600 on my SAT and got all AP class[es] next year woohoo…that’s all these people care about don’t they have lives damn nerds.” (Penrod 760). the quote is evidence that a part of the society believes that nerds are boastful and see other as lesser people. It for this reason that the hatred for nerds is socially high. “Man how I hate nerds . . . if I ever had a tommygun with me . . . I would most probably blow each one of their . . . heads off.” (759). This view of intellectuals is misplaced and unjust considering that just as the jocks who excel in the field events nerds do the same in class. The properties of an apex athlete are not any different from those of an intellect as they both devote a considerable amount of time learning.      

Public Adoration for Dropouts

The second reason indicated by Penrod is that of public examples. He explains that proponents of the Anti-intellectualism are always quick to identify successful individuals who are not considered intellectuals. Public figures such as Christina Aguilera, Kid Rock, and L. L. Cool J have always been used as examples of individuals who have reached the upper echelons of the society, commanding admiration, and fame without being intellects, as they do not have high school diplomas. Robert T. Kiyosaki who through anti-intellectualism views wrote a book titled If You Want to Be Rich and Happy, Don’t Go to School has identified such premises. This is a clear indication that “education is now merely an archaic institution that continues to cling to obsolete practices” (Penrod 761).despite the weight of the example presented by Penrod, the essay take a turn to show how far the society disregards intellectualism when he uses former president George, W. Bush Jr as an example. The president somewhat hit the headlines for his remarks about the budget “It’s clearly a budget. It’s got a lot of numbers in it” (762). The president also misused the word ‘wholesale’ in his declaration for racial equality. According to Penrod this is the ultimate disregard of intellectualism as some individuals in the society are known to suggest that one can be the president without bring an intellect.


The current society identifies success with money this is to say the more the money the more an individual is considered successful. Some of the individuals highlighted as celebrities’ dropout earn a high amount of money a social indication of success without education. Penrod uses Sammy Sosa as an example of the high earners after his eighteen million dollars contract in 2002. In his indication he employs the premise presented by Carillon who indicated, “In more than a few cases athletes’ incomes surpass the gross national product of some third-world countries” (Penrod 761). This point is further affirms the society’s obsession with money as a form of success. Penrod identifies that the reality of such remarkably uneducated consequently questioning the legitimacy of intellectualism Claussen deprived of being rewarded monetarily, gives a perception that intellectuals do not matter further demonstrating Penrod’s assertions that society cares less about the academics (122).

Penrod concludes his presentation by affirming, society despises on those personalities who aid it to development, shunning its best as well as brightes. In his article, Penrod directs his presentation definitely to learned people. His suggestions are primarily set at teenage school goers as well as college-aged students who form the schooling society. He states that the changes that should reduce anti-intellectualism from the high school level in order to make sure that the next generation of the society is more accommodative to the ‘nerds’. He also recommends that celebrities take less credit hen identified as school dropouts. There is also a need to increase the monetary rewards on intellectual’s achievements a factor that motivates higher developments.

 In summation, the essay Anti-Intellectualism: Why we hate the Smart Kids? By Grant Penrod is an eye-opening article. The essay indicates that the society in particular schools are great supporters of anti-intellectualism behavior. Schools offer the jock and popular kids with significant praise. On the other hand, they down play the achievement of nerds. It also indicates that the society holds high regards of success in terms of money. Finally, he indicates that the proponents of anti-intellectualism are quick to associate celebrity dropouts to the notion of not needing school to succeed. He recommends a number of changes in a schools as well as societies in order to reduces the issues of anti-intellectualism.

Works Cited

Claussen, Dane S. Anti-intellectualism in American media: magazines & higher education. Vol. 11. Peter Lang Pub Incorporated, 2004

Hofstadter, Richard. Anti-intellectualism in American Life.(3. Print.). Vol. 713. Vintage, 1963.

Howley, Craig B. Out of Our Minds: Anti-Intellectualism and Talent Development in American Schooling. Education and Psychology of the Gifted Series. Teachers College Press, 1234 Amsterdam Ave., New York, NY 10027 paperback: ISBN-0-8077-3416-0, $24.95; clothbound: ISBN-0-8077-3417-9, $50). 1995.

Penrod Grant Anti-Intellectualism: Why We Hate the Smart Kids. Pdf. file:///C:/Users/hi/AppData/Local/Temp/215779589_A18843-the_norton_field_guide_to_writing_with_readings_and_handbook_fourth_edition_8026342538194390.pdf