Though quite simple, my favorite way of using critical lenses is through what I call the onion. In a nutshell (or onion tunic) we apply who and what we are connected to to the layers of an onion starting with ourselves: core: me, 1st surrounding layer: family, 2nd surrounding layer: friends. etc.
Then we can make connections to the text and its implications by analyzing the particular lens of the piece in conjunction with the perspective of one or more of those layers. For example, in Kira Kira a strong psychoanalytic lens is portrayed in the relationship of Katie and Lynn. They were sisters, not necessarily close enough in age, but close nonetheless. They had each other’s company and companionship for a brief period of their lives until circumstances beyond their control brought their sisterhood to an end as Lynn passes away.
Starting with myself, I think of my relationship to my sister and how though I am seven years her senior and I don’t find it appropriate to share every aspect of my life with her, we are undeniably close. She follows me everywhere and people swear we are twins, something that she and I could never understand. Thus, in analyzing the psychoanalytic lens of Katie and Lynn’s relationship, I use my own personal relationship with my sister to relate.
On another layer, I have observed how the family around me have endured the loss of close sisters. My mother suddenly lost her sister to a heart attack; it was so sudden, shocking and totally unforeseen. I witnessed my mother cry a cry I’ve never heard her utter before or since. My father too, lost his close sister. His experience wasn’t a sudden one, though. In fact, he had the duration of about three years to visit his sister in Canada and to help her live out her uncertain days as comfortably and happily as he could possible make them. He spearheaded family reunions to make sure all the cousins saw each other and the new babies of the family. He held family game nights, inspirational services and even went on doctor visits with her. It was during this time, that many of us learned how close he was to his sister and how she practically raised him. Though her passing was eminent and greatly prepared for, still my father had a very hard time coming to terms with her loss.
Thus, as I’ve demonstrated, we can continue to make such connections by moving towards the outer layers of the onion.
I hope that this idea can be helpful to my fellow emerging teachers in some way.
Sigh, well I’m going to lay on my pillow and cry now.