The 411 on Paideia 111

Pay-dee-eya? Paid-dia? Pangea? Wait, that’s the super continent that formed during the late Paleozoic era… I really need to figure out 1)how to pronounce this word and 2)what on all of Pangea this class could possibly involve...

For any prospective students reading this, I am writing this particular blog post in hopes that you will enter your freshman year at Luther significantly less confused about this class and its pronunciation than I was…

Let’s start with the pronunciation first. Paideia is pronounced “pie-DAY-uh.” I’d suggest practicing that one a few times in order to avoid that awkward moment during first-year class registration when you ask your advisor about this “paid-eya” class (as I had so brilliantly referred to it), and your advisor just stares at you uncomprehendingly for a few moments, then, realizing you meant Paideia, chuckles to himself, possibly wondering how you even got into college....


Paideia is a classical Greek term that means “education.” A fitting title, I suppose, for a college course except for the fact that any and all college courses are centered around some form of education (at least I hope so considering how much one pays to attend an institution of said higher “education”). The name Paideia alone does little to help that future Luther first-year understand what exactly this class actually entails.

According to the course catalog, Paideia 111/112 Enduring Questions is a two-semester course that every first-year at Luther is required to take. Also available on Luther’s website, 111/112 is defined as “Face-to-Face Learning” “Learning In Community” and “Interdisciplinary.” However, I’m not here to give you a boring synopsis (that’s what the course catalogue is for).

So what is Paideia actually like?

For anyone who has taken AP English Language and Composition or AP English Literature and Composition in high school, Paideia is basically a version of those classes. If you’ve taken either (or both) of these classes, you will be more than sufficiently prepared for Paideia. Just like AP Lang and Lit, Paideia is literature-based and discussion-driven; and just like AP Lang and Lit, there is constantly a paper to be written.

However, unlike the two AP classes, Paideia isn’t pressured by the ever-looming AP exam or bullied by the CollegeBoard (which runs AP, along with the PSAT and SAT). Instead, a board of Paideia professors, all from various departments at Luther, are in charge of the curriculum. Which means that all the books we read are seamlessly woven into a curriculum centered around one, oh so relevant theme: what does it mean to be human?

Although frustrating at times and a bit repetitious at others, Paideia is overall a decent class. For those who have taken AP Lang or Lit, this class is an opportunity to continue to refine your writing and critical thinking skills. For those who never had AP English courses, Paideia is an excellent way to begin developing such skills.

In the spirit of a liberal arts education, it is important to recognize that writing is not a skill exclusive to English majors or journalists; it’s a tool acquired in the classroom but used in the world, no matter what one’s major or mode of future employment might be. Paideia is a class that helps (and/or forces) you to practice this life skill.

Just a little note to myself...

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