This is a new meme called “Anything Goes on Saturday” hosted by Yvonne from Socrates Book Reviews. It’s a chance to choose any topic you want and talk about it on Saturday – it can be about a book, TV show, movie, a recipe or just an update on your week. Whatever you choose.
This is my first week trying out this meme and I’d like to talk about something that can be both a savior to teens like me and a bane of english teacher-Sparknotes.
If you’re not familiar with the site, it provides information like plot summaries, analysis of themes and literary devices, main character descriptions, and the like for practically every classic book that exists. For every Shakespeare play, you can read the original text alongside ‘modern’ translations.
My English teachers have always warned against resorting to using websites like this, stating that we’ll ‘never learn’ and won’t actually understand anything. But I think that, after I read the actual book or play, glancing over something like Sparknotes can refresh my memory and keep certain details fixed in my head. Plus, I’m reading Hamlet with my lit class right now, and what’s the point of reading over an entire speech and understanding none of it? After attempting to interpret it myself, I look to Sparknotes to see how close I actually was.
So, to the point of this post. What’s your opinion of Sparknotes and other such study materials? Do these sites help, or do they undermine attempts to educate?
I think, if used in moderation and alongside the actual text, they can be enormously helpful.