Not Using SparkNotes – BrainStorm Tutoring in Franklin Lakes, NJ: Storm The Test
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Not Using SparkNotes

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By a member of Team BrainStorm

Their motto: “When your books and teachers don’t make sense, we do.” It’s true. SparkNotes do make a lot of sense out of a book or Shakespearean play when your teacher can’t pull off the feat.

Does that mean the site should be used though? I’ll admit that I have used SparkNotes, but for years I felt a pang of guilt afterwards, as if my teacher would be disappointed to know I had, unforgivably, cut an intellectual corner. And yet I persisted in the practice: what the heck happened in chapter 5 of Great Expectations? I needed the site’s help.

I have come to the conclusion that there is a positive and a negative way to use SparkNotes. I use it as a sort of supplemental resource when it comes to understanding a text of which I’m unsure. I will never let SparkNotes serve as a replacement when it comes to reading a novel or a play because I want to experience the plot, the characters, and the symbolism within for myself—not through some Internet site.

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Next time you’re sitting in English class, contemplating whether or not you understand why Romeo and Juliet just can’t be together, consider these Do’s and Dont’s of SparkNotes:

  • DON’T make SparkNotes your number one resource when it comes to reading and understanding a text. Read the text on your own and consult your teacher when you don’t understand something.
  • DO use SparkNotes as a supplemental resource. Read the text first, and then mosey on over to SparkNotes. Compare your interpretation of the text with theirs and with your teacher’s. What are the differences?
  • DON’T let SparkNotes become the text you use to write a paper. Beware the pit of plagiarism!
  • DO read your assigned English reading—you’ll be surprised how much you’ll appreciate it years later.

Bottom line: use SparkNotes as a resource, but not as a replacement. If you do, the site will help you not to fear Shakespeare– or any other author!

This entry was posted in Brain Food, BrainStorm’s resource center for parents.
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