The Weather

Not Using SparkNotes

March 6, 2020
Sparknotes logo

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.

Stock image brainstorm tutoring nj

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.
To explore further into the world of BrainStorm, choose your location: