Anti Intellectualism Essay

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In Anti-intellectualism in America, Richard Hofstadter talks in great detail about the problems with the education system in America and what he calls “Anti-Intellectualism”. Hofstadter provides a history of the education system that begins with the problems in the early colonial days and continues until the nineteen fifties when he wrote his book. This discussion of anti-intellectualism will include defining anti-intellectualism, give a history of some of the early problems that plagued the American school system, and show how this anti-intellectualism is prevalent in today’s society. I will relate the information from Hofstadter’s book back to some of the key characters we have discussed in class lectures. Anti-intellectualism is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as: “opposing or hostile to intellectuals or to an intellectual view or approach”. Hofstadter never makes a definitive definition of what he views as anti-intellectualism, however in his book he does reference several issues that stem from Americans not allowing for proper education to all our countrymen and at times have been hostile to those who are considered intellectuals. Rafik Elias interprets Hofstadter’s definition of American anti-intellectualism as “compatible with the technical and vocational objectives of higher education but hostile toward intellectual thought and the academic professionals who represent it” (Elias 2008, p.110). In the early nineteen hundreds women and blacks had a hard time obtaining an education because they were not seen as equals or they were seen as inferior to white men. In many communities school masters, (who were white men in their own right), limited class sizes in public schools and allowed white males to take the first spots in classes (Hofstadter 1963, p. 302). This made it difficult if not impossible for women and blacks to get an opportunity to
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