Analyzing Perspectives

Author: Jill Torrey Emmons

Time: 1 class period
10 minutes to copy essay prompt
Materials: Copies of essay prompt (optional)

This lesson seeks to help students draw upon what they have learned about cultural influences and relate this to their own lives. First the class will briefly discuss the metaphor of cultural “lenses.” What is a lens? How do our cultural and personal beliefs become a lens which colors the way we look at life and society? The class will then turn the focus inward and examine these questions from a personal standpoint in a well-written essay.

Purpose – This lesson is the “explain” and “apply” piece of the learning cycle. Students are now well able to explain some of the ways in which cultural values affect perspectives, using the texts we have read in class. Furthermore, they will apply what they have learned about cultural and societal lenses by examining how their own culture and society influences their perspectives.

Students will be able to:
1. Discuss how cultural values and societal beliefs influence perspectives in literature.
2. Identify and articulate how their own culture and society affects their actions and beliefs.

National English Education Standard
Standard 5: Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.

Standard 9: Students develop an understanding of and respect for diversity in language use, patterns, and dialects across cultures, ethnic groups, geographic regions, and social roles.

Teacher Background
The instructor should be aware of the ways in which personal, cultural, and societal influences affect our perspectives on life.

Related and Resource Websites
Cultural Diversity web sites:



1. Begin class with the following journal prompt (this will serve as brainstorming questions for the essay students will write): “Think about the texts we have read over the past four days. How were the characters we read about influenced by their respective cultural and societal circumstances? How were their perspectives on life affected by culture/class/social conditions? What about you? What do you consider to be your culture? How do you think your neighborhood/city/state/country has affected the person you have become?”

2. After students have responded to these questions in their journals (about 5-10 minutes), you may wish to discuss some of their ideas as a whole class.

3. Explain to the class that today they will be analyzing the affects of their own cultural and social beliefs on their personal perspectives.

4. Let students have the remainder of the class period to begin writing their essays (they may be completed at home and turned in on the due date you select).

5. Explain to the class that they must use proper essay format and process in order to compose a successful paper. Hand out the following essay prompt:

Analyzing Perspectives
This week we have read and discussed at length the ways in which our culture, society, and environment can influence our perspectives on life. Now it is your turn to think about your own personal beliefs and reflect on how your culture and social values affect who you are, what you think, and what you do. Write an academic essay in which you explore this idea, along with explaining how our cultural and societal beliefs are in many ways like a “lens” which influences everything we see and think about. In your essay, you may want to consider some of the following questions:

  • What do you consider to be your culture? How is the term culture different from ethnicity?
  • What beliefs and values do you hold dear? Where do these beliefs come from?
  • How are you influenced by your culture, your community, your family?
  • What kind of person are you? How has living in America influenced who you have become? What do you consider to be “American” values? Do you agree with them?
  • Did you always live in the U.S.? How might you have changed as a person if you had grown up in another country, city, or neighborhood? If you were not born where you currently live how would your perspectives on life have been different if you had remained in your original city/state/country?

After answering any questions students may have, give them the remainder of the class period to work on their essays. Float around the room and assist students with outlines and rough drafts.

Cultural perspectives essay.

Embedded Assessment
Student essays should be assessed for completion of the lesson objectives. Primarily, are the students able to identify and articulate the ways in which culture and society affect their perspectives? Essays should be well-organized and contain a thesis, proper introduction, conclusion, ideas separated by paragraphs, use of topic and transitional sentences, etc.


PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

1996-2007, The University of Arizona
Last update: November 10, 2009
  Page Content: Rachel Hughes
Web Master: Travis Biazo