Recent government initiatives have required universities to include specific literacy and numeracy targets for the students. The authors – both members of the English discipline at Charles Sturt University – were invited to develop and run a two-semester program for all students studying to become early childhood, primary, and secondary teachers. This article outlines the nature of the two subjects which comprise the program: the first focused on reading and comprehension, the second on writing and composition. These subjects were conceived from collegial dialogues between academics in education and the humanities, and then developed from these different assumptions and starting points. Over the last five years, the shared experiences of teaching these prospective teachers has grown into a strongly coherent first year of study. This article seeks the describe the experiences of teaching literacy to first-year education students, and it is by turns hypothesising and speculative, reflective and qualitative, in its approach. In the process, this article offers colleagues across the country a reflection on the hypotheses of literacy education, some new ideas for teaching literacy, and some optimism for the future of the teaching profession, and the dignity of those who aspire to be a part of it.