Critical Lens Essay – Agree or Disagree?
What is the purpose of your critical lens essay? Is it to just give an opinion or perspective about a particular piece of writing, like a quote, or a piece of art, or is there more to it than that?
We think it is a lot more than that. Yes - you are being asked to make a judgment call but you also have to substantiate it with support and justification.
We love this quote by Stephen King, one of the greatest writers we know:
"you want to remember that while you’re judging the book, the book is also judging you”.
Very clever little ditty and fantastically thought provoking to say the least.
For your critical lens essay we think you can be slightly controversial because the word critical gives you permission to speak your mind. You are being asked to evaluate and apply critical thinking to the material you write. The lens part – well that just provides you with the vision and the focus.
Hear what Ian Hunter has to say about critical thinking in his book Write That Essay:
"critically analyse its academic shorthand to discuss the merits and shortcomings of an idea, using research as your source of evidence … [what] the marker is looking for here is for you to go and find relevant research on the topic, read it, then discuss in depth the merits and shortcomings …”
Critical Lens Essay Structure
The overall structure of the critical essay defaults to the five-paragraph format, which means it should consist of the following elements: introduction, 2-3 body paragraphs & a conclusion. Here are several articles that explain the question of essay structure.
The keyword here is relevant research. You see the marker wants you to get it right so they use words like relevant for a reason. This is where you use tools such as support and justification because they are action words. They make you go and do the work. So when you are writing a supporting document you have gathered reasons or evidence on what you have based your opinion on.
The marker doesn’t want just random thoughts on why you thought a quote was powerful, or insightful or inspirational – they want to know why you think this way.
Don’t be afraid to state what you believe but be clever enough to remember that your critical lens essay is then asking you to back that up with why you believe your perspective or interpretation, similar to an argumentative essay. They all need analysis; discussion and they all need evidential support applied. Use reasons and examples that use facts to why you believe something to be true. This is what your marker needs to see in your critical lens essay.
A critical lens essay can be a journey of self-discovery. It is not often we are asked to analyze why we think a certain way or why we see the world as we do. It is not even very often we are being asked to give an opinion and maybe this is why the critical lens essay should be more popular, especially for students.
Outside of the academic world continuous learning begins and for students wanting to get into management careers writing business reports can take on a similar format to a critical lens essay because there will certainly be situations you will be instructed to write a fairly hefty business proposal. If you get the format and application right at college and it works well there, you have actually learnt a valuable business tool to take with you into the big, wide world.
The key is to never stop learning, to also think critically but also be open to others people’s valuable knowledge and expertise. Once you can do all that, you will become a winner at college and in life.
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