Liberal arts: The missing piece in education

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Retired college professor Joe Gilliland shares his journey to the classroom in new book

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Success relies on satisfaction in the pursuit of happiness and education is one of the keys to that feeling of success and that earned happiness.

A survey done by the National Association of Colleges and Employers shows the job offer rate for graduating seniors in 2014 had the greatest improvement with liberal arts majors, and more specifically those in education.

Joe Gilliland stumbled upon the education profession more by accident than intention. In his new book, “A Teacher’s Tale,” he tells of the unique journey that ultimately led him to become an instructor of literature and arts at the college level.

In his more than 50 years in education, Gilliland has discovered liberal arts and humanities as an essential foundation for learning. “A Teacher’s Tale” outlines his argument that the current core curriculum, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), isn’t sufficient as it’s missing the “A” for arts.

“True science is in essence a humanities highly dependent on the imagination and the creative impulse that is fostered by study in the world of arts and ideas,” Gilliland said. “Science requires the imagination that questions the absolutist’s certitudes, and math is the tool with which the certitudes are tested.”

Gilliland’s story is also an inspirational one of pursuing a life of happiness beyond his career. After serving in the military, he graduated from the University of Texas with no clear goal in mind. Taking only classes he personally enjoyed, he left with a psychology degree and later stumbled into an English teaching position in Japan where he fell in love with his future wife, Bettie.

“Success in life is not determined by the wealth one accumulates in his or her search for a calling, for a life’s work,” Gilliland said. “Success relies on satisfaction in the pursuit of happiness and education is one of the keys to that feeling of success and that earned happiness.”

“A Teacher’s Tale”
By: Joe Gilliland
ISBN: 978-1-49174-583-0
Softcover: $33.95, Hardcover: $43.95, E-book: $6.99
Available on, and

About the author
Joe Gilliland earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s degree in English from the University of Texas, Austin, then later earned a doctorate in English from Arizona State University. Gilliland has been an educator for more than 50 years, the majority of that time spent at the community college and university level where he believes the “real teaching happens.” Gilliland is now retired and currently resides in Bisbee, Arizona, with his wife, Bettie.

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Heidi Harmon
Bohlsen Group
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