Homeschool moms, here are some thoughts about why Cliffs Notes should not get homeschoolers an automatic F.
Why Cliffs Notes Should Not Get Homeschoolers An Automatic F.
When I was in high school, I had an English teacher who gave out automatic “F’s” to any student who was caught with Cliffs Notes in his or her possession. I walked in mortal terror of every using a literature summary or study notes.
Now I teach literature to high school homeschoolers, and I actually encourage the use of literature summaries and study helps websites like www.cliffsnotes.com or www.sparknotes.com for my students in certain situations. Want to know why?
The point of assigning books to our homeschool students is to:
* stretch them as readers (with material, vocabulary, and style they may not have encountered before)
* encourage them as critical thinkers (learning to understand and evaluate what they are reading)
* inspire them to write about ideas or character types with whom they connect
Some of the books I choose for my homeschooler to read may be thematic material he is ready to embrace, but the vocabulary or the writing style may be difficult for him. Do I want him to give up just because of those obstacles? Of course not!
Supplemental resources (like summary websites) are simply that: supplemental. They do not replace reading the book. They do not stand alone. But if they provide the confidence and tools for the successful completion of a difficult work of literature, why would I penalize a student for using them?
The key is integrity. If a student says that he has read a book, he must actually have read that book, not just a summary (or watched the movie). If he required help to successfully read and understand that book, is his accomplishment any less? Has his integrity been compromised?
If he is able to understand the book reading it alone, that is ideal. I only recommend going to a summary after wrestling with a book first.
We are wise to also consider that time is viewed differently for our children’s generation than it was for ours. Where I rode my bike to the library to look up information for a research report, my children Google the keywords and start from there. The idea that using a literature summary is cheating simply doesn’t make sense unless the child is substituting the summary for the actual book.
The goal is understanding of the literature at hand. If my student has been raised with character and integrity, I can feel confident to place at his disposal tools that will aid in his understanding…regardless of what my high school English teacher thought about literature summaries like Cliffs Notes!
My vlog deals with this question….check 7 Sisters’ channel out!
What do you think about online literature summaries?
7Sisters email subscribers receive periodic practical encouragement, special offers and NO SPAM EVER.
Why Cliffs Notes Should Not Get Homeschoolers An Automatic F