Fridman Nerds Essay Outline

Presentation on theme: "“America Needs Its Nerds” by: Leonid Fridman"— Presentation transcript:

1 “America Needs Its Nerds” by: Leonid Fridman
Essay Anaylsis

2 Purpose, Audience, Context, Tone
In his persuasive essay, “America Needs its Nerds”, Leonid Fridman trys to convince (persuade) the reader that the anti- intellectualism that runs rampant throughout the United States must end. Fridman is targeting teachers, students and administrators alike. He uses exaggeration to emphasis his exasperation (frustration) with the disrespect he feels “nerds and geeks” are subjected to.

3 ContextBeing a founding member of…Fridman knows first hand the struggles of the bright, and academically minded. When these contemptuious attitudes followed Fridman all the way to Harvard he finally said “enough is enough”, and submitted this article to the New York Times.

4 ThesisFrom the introduction of his essay, Fridman’s point of view is quite clear. He feels as though the “intellectually curious and academically serious” in the United States are seen as being freaks, and only derogatory terms are used to describe these groups. He sums up his main point (thesis) when he says, “It is a telling fact about our language and our culture that someone dedicated to pursuit of knowledge is compared to a freak biting the head off a live chicken”.

5 Subordinate Points#1 Fridman supports his central idea (thesis) when he points out that, “Nerds are ostracized while athletes are idolized”. He says that students who rather study, than play football or party are made to feel ashamed and become social outcasts. (note how I can use some of the authors words here without quotations because of the word that)

6 #2Fridman strengthens his argument by comparing how academic success is seen in East Asian countries. Unlike the United States, “a kid who studies hard is lauded and held up as an example to other students”. Parents in the US are often ashamed when their child is seen as being a book worm rather than a dancer or baseball player.

7 #3Finally, Fridman demands to know, “How long can America remain a world-class power if we constantly emphasize social skills and physical prowess over academic achievement and intellectual ability”?

8 ParadoxA seemingly absurd statement, that after further reflection proves itself to be true. It occurs when two things that should not be able to exist at the same time, do exist at the same time. Eg. It is impossible that it be both night and day, both spring and fall, both past and present at the same time. Humans however, can experience two or more emotions at the same time or can see things from two points of view at the same time.

9 Statements such as, “I can resist anything except temptation” (Oscar Wilde), or “What a pity that youth must be wasted on the young” (George Bernard Shaw), are great examples of paradox.If in a poem it was stated that the speaker is experiencing the past and present at the same time, this may mean that his memories of the past are so vivid that the past seems to be existing in the present.

To the Editor:

While ''America Needs Its Nerds'' (Op-Ed, Jan. 11) by Leonid Fridman, a Harvard student, may be correct in its message that Americans should treat intellectualism with greater respect, his identification of the ''nerd'' as guardian of this intellectual tradition is misguided.

Mr. Fridman maintains that anti-intellectualism runs rampant across this country, even at the ''prestigious academic institution'' he attends. However, he confuses a distaste for narrow-mindedness with anti-intellectualism. Just as Harvard, as a whole, reflects diversity in the racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds of its students, each student should reflect a diversity of interest as well.

A ''nerd'' or ''geek'' is distinguished by a lack of diverse interests, rather than by a presence of intellectualism. Thus, a nerd or geek is not, as Mr. Fridman states, a student ''for whom pursuing knowledge is the top priority'' but a student for whom pursuing knowledge is the sole objective. A nerd becomes socially maladjusted because he doesn't participate in social activities or even intellectual activities involving other people. As a result, a nerd is less the intellectual champion of Mr. Fridman's descriptions than a person whose intelligence is not focused and enhanced by contact with fellow students. Constant study renders such social learning impossible.

For a large majority at Harvard, academic pursuit is the highest goal; a limited number, however, refuse to partake in activities other than study. Only these select few are the targets of the geek label. Continuous study, like any other obsession, is not a habit to be lauded. Every student, no matter how ''intellectually curious,'' ought to take a little time to pursue social knowledge through activities other than study.

Mr. Fridman's analysis demonstrates further flaws in his reference to Japan. He comments that ''in East Asia, a kid who studies hard is lauded and held up as an example to other students,'' while in the United States he or she is ostracized. This is an unfair comparison because Mr. Fridman's first reference is to how the East Asian child is viewed by teachers, while his second reference is to how the American child is viewed by fellow students. Mr. Fridman is equating two distinct perspectives on the student to substantiate a broad generalization on which he has no factual data.

Nerdism may also be criticized because it often leads to the pursuit of knowledge not for its own sake, but for the sake of grades. Nerds are well versed in the type of intellectual trivia that may help in obtaining A's, but has little or no relevance to the real world. A true definition of intellectualism ought to include social knowledge.

While we in no way condone the terms ''nerds'' and ''geeks'' as insults, we also cannot condone the isolationist intellectualism Mr. Fridman advocates.

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