Before we get into how to write your critical lens essay, we should first talk a little more about what it is.
It’s not an essay type that’s extremely common in most English or literature classes.
If Secondary Source X argues that standardized testing should be used to evaluate high school teachers, and Primary Source Y charts students’ standardized test scores against teachers’ in-class evaluations at public and private high schools, what might looking at Source X and Source Y together tell us about the real-life situations where standardized test scores accurately do or don’t accurately measure teachers’ performance?
THE DOCTOR AND THE PATIENT: A medical analogy might also be fitting to describe another way that primary and secondary sources interact.
TWO COOKS IN THE KITCHEN: Have you ever watched one of those TV cooking challenges, where both chefs get the same ingredients to create their dishes?
They each start out with similar combinations of milk, eggs, and flour, but one bakes a pound cake and the other a puff pastry.
Say that a patient comes to a doctor’s office complaining of a problem—he’s been exercising every day and can’t lose weight.
The doctor asks him about his eating habits, and finds that he’s been consuming a high-calorie diet.
Alternatively, if the sources clearly contain opposing viewpoints, we cast them as “enemies”—Source X argues that standardized testing should be used to evaluate high school teachers, but Source Y argues that it should not.
It might seem like the way to add complexity to such theses would be to define the sources as “frenemies”– Source X and Source Y both argue that standardized tests should be used to evaluate high school teachers, but only Source X argues that student reports should also be used to evaluate high school teachers.