If reading CliffsNotes is too hard …

Is it possible to dumb down CliffsNotes? Yes! writes William Briggs on Pajamas Media. For students who really, really hate to read, CliffNotes will produce five-minute videos which will be shown initially on AOL.  These shorts will be “humorous” and “irreverent,” while summarizing plots, characters, and themes, the company promises.

When I read the The Old Curiosity Shop, I too laughed when Little Nell died — a burst of hilarity which was induced by pages that weren’t even in color, let alone 3D. So I can’t wait to see how uproariously irreverent CliffsNotes’ version will be. I look forward eagerly to Native-American Joe’s death scene. And just imagine Miss Havisham in her tattered dress! Maybe Pip can accidentally spill some tomato juice on it and put the old bag in her place. How irreverent! Ha ha!

“Five minutes is an eternity in our go-go, busy-busy, click-swipe world,” writes Briggs, so CliffNotes also will supply a one-minute video available on mobile telephones “as an emergency refresher before a test.”

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  1. Idiocracy.

  2. This reminded me of how Tom Stoppard’s “15-Minute Hamlet” concludes with a frenzied, two-minute-long version of the play. Absolutely hilarious, and no doubt the inspiration for the Cliffs Notes videos.

  3. Apropos “15-Minute Hamlet”: something similar is “History of the World in 5 minutes” (in Norwegian – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WsuTHSGBGc). Cracks me up every time I watch it.

    At least it’s not meant to be taken seriously as a quick brush-up on world history.

  4. I wonder if there is a way as a science teacher to include a detailed reading of the Illiad in my curriculum?

  5. Lee Shepherd says:

    It is a brilliant idea. More kids will get excited about great works of literature with those videos than by any amount of snark you lit snobs can spew about the sanctity of western civilization (as you write your comments on a blog) Who knew there were so many CliffsNotes “purists” out there?

  6. If these really do help kids read and understand the literature, then good on ’em. On the other hand, if they merely become a way to pass a test, then I don’t see them as providing much of any worth. Of course, they have a perfect right to be of no worth, for what that’s worth…