First Year Composition (FYC) instructors are often left to puzzle out the larger meaning of the most ubiquitous course in our field for themselves; consequently, goals for the course are frequently selected by the instructor, and are not always most effective for laying a groundwork of lifelong learning and education, or paideia. This lack of clear and unifying goals for the course is illustrated by a piece of 2005 scholarship that points to multiple focuses for FYC, each different in its values and aims. FYC is an important course for students, not only because it is one of only a few writing courses students must take, but also because it is often required as part of a general education core. Because it is such an important course, it is imperative that we identify a unified set of goals for FYC—a set of goals that work toward a larger goal of paideia, or preparation for lifelong learning and citizenship. Some well-received and recently popularized approaches to the course try and fail to meet this criteria of enhancing students' pursuit of paideia, namely goals of teaching course-specific genres and general writing skills. Rather than continuing in these problematic to FYC, we must adopt a rhetorical paideia focus and seek to achieve the goals of rhetorical paideia in our courses. We must help students gain insights, through their development as writers, into their world (phronesis) and themselves (self knowledge), and FYC is the vehicle through which we can accomplish these goals.



College and Department

Humanities; English



Date Submitted


Document Type





first year composition, first year writing, writing instruction, genre, genre instruction, general writing skills instruction, paideia, general education, rhetorical paideia, rhetoric education, writing course outcomes, writing course goals