Study of Adult Literacy

Paulo Freire was born in Brazil in 1921 (Sharma, 2017). He was a Brazilian philosopher/educator and political activist that mainly worked in adult literacy (Sharma, 2017). Freire wrote an overall seven books but the most cited is called Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Sharma, 2017). This book is mainly cited in places like Asia, Africa, and South America (Sharma, 2017). Freire’s model is very known in the United States and it has been utilized in community organizations, health education, and social work/adult education (Sharma, 2017).

Freire’s model consists of the use of three phases: the first phase is naming (listening stage)- what is the problem?, the second stage is a reflection (dialogue stage) – How did we explain this situation? and the third stage is action – what can be done to change this situation? (Sharma, 2017). Since it is very difficult to help people see their own experiences because of the required high degree of facilitation it is a very hard approach to practice (Sharma, 2017).

The first stage called the naming stage is also been called the listening stage (Sharma, 2017). This phase is carried out by partnering up with the community and asking two questions; “What is the problem?” or “What is the question under discussion?” this is analyzed to figure out what the problem is and to determine priorities (Sharma, 2017). For example, if one was applying the theory to a group of the overweight night attending college students the study might identify one of the problems as eating very late because of the hours attending school.

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The second phase is the reflection phase which has also been called the dialogue stage (Sharma, 2017). In this phase questions like “How do we explain this situation?” and “Why is this the case?” these discussions are called codes and the actual process is called codification (Sharma, 2017). Any physical representation of an identified community issue of any kind is a code (Sharma, 2017). This could be anything a picture, story slide show, or even a song just anything physical that represents a community issue. To have an effective code, participants must be able to express their emotions and social response (Sharma, 2017). The goal is to bring out as many inner emotions as possible in each participant (Sharma, 2017).

In the training programs that facilitators help a five-step debriefing is used and this is called the codification process. In this Codification process the five questions asked are:

  1. Describe what you see and feel.
  2. As a group defines the many levels of problems.
  3. Share similar experiences from your lives.
  4. Question why this problem exists.
  5. Develop action plans to address the problem (Sharma, 2017).

For example, an overweight college student is being teased by some students because of his size so he does not participate in a sport he normally would and loves to play because he feels uncomfortable with his body appearance. This would stir up emotions in the participant which would then be used to initiate learning by the facilitator (Sharma, 2017). The facilitator would then encourage the participant to move on to the action phase (Sharma, 2017). The action phase is the third phase which brings up the question of “What options do we have?” (Sharma, 2017).

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Study of Adult Literacy. (2022, Apr 23). Retrieved from

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