Is SparkNotes Better Than the Real Deal?

A battle between teachers’ and students’ opinions on reading.

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Madison Metzger, Online Editor

A scholastic website called SparkNotes was created by Harvard students in 1999 in order to provide study guides for literature to help students understand more complex literary works. Many students at Weatherford High School (WHS) use this website to their advantage in advanced placement and dual credit classes. According to English teachers such as Stacy Tharp and Charles Carroll, reading the class material is always more beneficial and SparkNotes should be used sparingly and with the right mindset.

“I think if you use one to support the other then I think you are going to do really well at whatever you’re doing but if you don’t like what you’re reading as a primary text and you say ‘Okay I’m just going to read SparkNotes instead,’ at some point that’s going to catch up with you,” Carroll said.

Tharp agrees by saying a student is supposed to interpret reading on their own rather than relying on a website such as SparkNotes to do it for them.

Despite their teachers’ opinions on the website, many students use it differently whether it be because of a busy schedule or simply because one doesn’t like reading. Some compare it to their reading material.

“I will read sometimes and use SparkNotes to see if I got the main idea of what I was supposed to read,” Senior, Faith Wilhite said.

Some students rely on the summaries alone rather than their English class’s reading material to get them a passing grade.

“I think reading is more important but I think SparkNotes helps more… I just use SparkNotes,” Hudson Taylor (22) said.

Some students such as Samuel Delgado (23) do not even know such a resource exists.

“What is SparkNotes? I only read the [class] material,” Delgado said.

Overall SparkNotes is an important source that many but not all students would be lost without. However, according to most, the resource itself cannot be used alone. Lauren Belles (23) finally said what most other students are thinking in regards to why she uses the scholastic website.

“SparkNotes don’t really go in-depth. When you’re doing an assignment you want to have that in-depth knowledge of what you’re reading. However, I’m lazy. I don’t like to read a lot so me saying that I prefer to read would be hypocritical of me.” Belles said.

As helpful a resource as SparkNotes proves to be to WHS students, especially those in advanced, college-level classes, it may not always suffice, or please your English teacher for that matter.