Harvard students aren’t the only ones who cheat. There’s an article in “The New Republic” entitled “Students Everywhere Cheat – Not Just Harvard’s Freshmen” that details just how many American high school students admit to having cheated on tests and homework assignments. And, of course, since cheaters aren’t exactly the most honest people, imagine how many also cheat but don’t own up to it! According to the article in “The New Republic,” “In a survey published Thursday in the Harvard Crimson, 42 percent of incoming freshmen admitted to having cheated on a homework assignment in high school and 10 percent admitted to cheating on an exam.” Just think of the real numbers!
The article in “The New Republic” also discusses SparkNotes quite a bit, a company founded by Harvard graduates of course. All Harvard students polled by the writer of this article admitted to using SparkNotes in one way or the other while in high school. But is using SparkNotes cheating? Admittedly, some high school students use SparkNotes instead of reading the actual texts, but others use SparkNotes in addition to reading the texts to gain a better understanding. Understanding Shakespeare, after all, is tough stuff.
According to the article in “The New Republic,” “SparkNotes itself denies its role as a cheating aid. ‘We’re here to help you learn, not to help you cheat,’ the site claims. ‘Sometimes you don’t understand your teacher, your textbooks make no sense, and you have to read sixteen chapters by tomorrow. SparkNotes is a resource you can turn to when you’re confuzzled.'” We happen to agree. Copying homework assignments and using crib sheets on tests — now that’s cheating. Using SparkNotes? It’s not cheating. And, contrary to what the writer of the article opines, it’s not even cheating yourself. Without SparkNotes, many students would have no clue what “Hamlet” is about. With SparkNotes, they might remember some of the themes of “Hamlet” for years to come — well after high school.