The Multiple Faces of the Classroom:

Using Endofs Literary Face Theory for Critical Teacher Reflection

Denise Patmon, University of Massachusetts/Boston

Born out of the work of Endo Shusaku, late Japanese author, his Face Theory was originally designed to help Japanese writers and readers analyze character roles in fiction.@ The role of literature in Japan may serve the purpose of eliciting conversations about ghard subjectsh through the voices and experiences of characters in stories, unlike the role of literature in the west.@ The protection of family honor is so critical in this cultural context that talk about intimacy beyond the family about personal challenges is absolutely off limits.@ Endo argued therefore, that the Japanese novelist has a particular responsibility to provide readers with opportunities to gain various perspectives about any one issue from the experiences of characters in their stories to serve as a springboard for inquiry and discussion of real life problems and conditions.@ Hence, Endo proposed that this literary character analysis be done through the exploration of four major faces that we all don at different times throughout our lives.

Having learned this theoretical construct from Endo-san when he was alive, this researcher has since used this paradigm to assist teachers in reflecting about their classroom practice and pedagogy throughout the United States through her involvement as a leader in the National Writing Project at the University of California/Berkeley and specifically at the University of Massachusetts/Boston with teachers from schools in the Greater Boston area.@ The purpose of this study was to investigate the application of this Japanese construct with teachers in the United States from a variety of geographical areas and have used Endofs lens to look and re-look at their classrooms in the teaching of writing.@ The researcherfs hypothesis was that teachers from around the United States could better focus deliberate teaching once aware of what already exists in their classrooms.

Theoretical Constructs – On Face Work


The research of Moffett and Britton were the cornerstone theories of the teaching of writing.@ The 3 basic areas of expressive, transactional, and poetic writing encompassed the non-traditional genres in composition theory for the purposes of this study.@ In addition regarding research about face theory in the west, Nisbett (2003) posits that gEast Asians are supposed to be less concerned with personal goals or self-aggrandizement than are Westerners.@ Group goals and coordinated action are more often the concerns.@ Maintaining harmonious social relations is likely to take precedence over achieving personal success.h@ Goffman (2001) suggests that gFace is defined as the positive social value a person effectively claims for himself by the line others assume he has taken during a particular contact.@ Face is an image of the self, delineated in reference to approved social values.h@ Rodriguez (1999) underscores the importance of masking the face in purporting that, gMasks are socially constructed disguises that veil the self.@ The mask allows one to be seen precisely by hiding oneself behind the institutional face.h@ Finally Anzaldua (1990) states that gFace is the surface of the body that is the most noticeably inscribed by social structures.@ We are written all over – carved and tattooed with the sharp needles of experience.h@ Western researchers have thought deeply about the importance of face and power in society.@ We in the West have much to learn from scholars in the East.@ Too often the Western paradigm of meaning making dominates the conversation.@ The application, analysis and synthesis of Endofs Face Theory to western teachers were another purpose of this study.@ Professional development and helping teachers take an inquiry stance in establishing a teacher centered learning community was an outgrowth of the use of Endofs theoretical construct.

TEACHER POPULATIONS:@ N = 120 teacher practitioners; K-12 classrooms, licensed teachers

Time Period – 2000-2008;@@ Specific Geographic Areas of Teachersf Classrooms:@ MA, RI, CT, CA, TX


Endo's Face Theory

Outside Face – The face we don to the external world; the face we use to negotiate our way through life on a day to day basis

Inside Face – The face we don to those with whom we are intimate

Pure Face – The self-reflective face that only you see

Unknown Face – The face that is inside of us that only reveals itself under extraordinary circumstances


gWith Different Languages and Cultural Lensh - Reflective Teaching/Classroom Practice Worksheet

OUTSIDE FACE – What does a visitor notice/observe/sense about my school/classroom and the promotion of teaching once s/he enters the environment?

INSIDE FACE – What do my students and I recognize about our teaching/learning environment that is unknown to the outsiderfs eyes?

PURE FACE – What do I alone see about my classroom and the promotion of teaching and learning in direct relation to my student population?

UNKNOWN FACE – What might be a true surprise to learn about teaching and learning in my classroom in relation to my distinct population of children?@ What new risk(s)/strategies might I try in order to best serve this population?



As a direct result of experiencing Patmonfs Adaptation of Endofs Face Theory, individual teachers from around the United States designed the classroom inquiry projects.@ A sampling of four such projects are:

  1. How can I create a community of listeners in my classroom in order to foster language development and higher level thinking skills?
  2. In what ways does communication/interaction differ with less verbal children as opposed to verbal children?
  3. Is it fair to try to measure a preschoolerfs understanding of story time narratives, or is it better simply to accept their enjoyment, engagement, comments about, and build upon the concepts and vocabulary of stories at other times of the day?
  4. How do we assess language progress across grade levels?

Such inquiry projects provided teachers and in some instances school faculty with a deeper level of examination of classroom practice leading to change in onefs teaching and an improvement in learning.@ Teachersf voices about their learning and findings are:

gIt was the outside face of my classroom that conflicted with the inside face that brought about a change towards more rigor, criticism, and explicit focus on equity.h

gEndofs Face Theory requires multiple points of view on onefs work.@ Face Theory work allows us to stand in different places at different times to look at our work which must constantly change as it remains the same.h

gI was afraid of telling the truth – it was like a confession to a Catholic priest in a confessional box.@ How far was I going to be allowed to tell the truth [in my responses to the Face Theory key questions]?h

gFace Theory work can transform a classroom to see with new lenses.h

gIt makes you stand in a different place to look at your work.h

gIfd like to do this exercise more consistently.@ It was affirming and surprising.h

gThe Face Theory is easily adapted to help students analyze characters in literature.@ It really helped me teach character analysis.h

gIt gave me a new paradigm for thinking about and new language for talking about the culture of relationships and classroom teaching.h

gIt gives us an expanded view of what a writing project can do to align work with a desire for change.h

gItfs a powerful tool that invites conversation about how we [as people] do not have a unified vision/understanding.@ We bring ourselves, our backgrounds, cultures and experiences to our views.@ We actually present ourselves in different ways to different people.h

gIt invites a variety of voices into the classroom.h



Relationships are at the core of effective teaching and learning.@ Examining those relationships through the lens of diverse perspectives that is platformed through the use of Endofs Face Theory provides teachers with opportunities for reflection and professional development.@ Outcomes of this study suggest that:

1.  U.S. teachers (K-12) are open to learning non-Western theories and approaches to teaching and learning and are starving for such knowledge.

2.  Teachers are eager to take an inquiry stance to deepen their pedagogy and are guided by tools to help them perform classroom based research of their practice.

3.  Classroom based protocol for teachers, developed in the U.S. based on Japanese literary theory reflects the globalization of education in todayfs times.


While western thought dominates most literary tradition and ways of knowing in the world, the adaptation of Endofs Face theory locates professional development for teachers K-16 in Japanese literary tradition – a shift in thinking.@ Is Endofs Face Theory applicable to K-12 teacher reflection in Japan?



Anzaldua, G.@ (1990).@ Making Faces, Making Soul/Haciendo Caras:@ Creative and Critical Perspectives by Feminists of Color.@ San Francisco, CA:@ Aunt Lute Books

Britton, J.@ (19930).@ Language & Learning.@ NH:@ Boynton/Cook

Goffman, E.@ (2001).@ gOn Face-Work:@ An Analysis of Ritual Elements in Social Interactionh IN A. Jaworski and N. Coupland (eds).@ The Discourse Reader (pp. 302-320).@ NY:@ Routledge

Moffett, J.@ (1992).@ Student-Centered Language Arts:@ K-12.@ NH:@ Boynton/Cook

Nisbett, R.@ (2003).@ The Geography of Thought:@ How Asians and Westerners Think Differentlyc and Why.@ NY:@ The Free Press

Rodriguez, B.@ (1999).@ Autobiographical inscriptions:@ Form, Personhood, and the American Woman Writer of Color.@ Oxford:@ Oxford University Press