I got to do something thoroughly enjoyable this week in presenting the State Superintendent Awards for Arts Excellence to 110 extremely talented high school seniors from 36 different high schools throughout the state.
Congratulations to these very deserving young men and women. And a big thank you to the Masonic Fraternity of Oklahoma for hosting this event for us and to our primary partner for the event, the Oklahoma Alliance For Arts Education. I also would like to thank the many active arts organizations throughout Oklahoma that support arts education in our schools, and the parents, grandparents, family members and friends who have provided years of support, encouragement and guidance to our winning young artists.
When I spoke before the attendees at the awards, I talked about finding a "joyful song" in our lives, a life path filled with purpose.
At the State Department of Education we celebrate academic achievement, as we should. But if the focus remains only on math, science and reading, then we're missing something fundamental: the full development of a life of the mind that comes only with an ease with the arts, an appreciation for the masters, and active participation in creative endeavors. Artistic disciplines reinforce higher learning and thinking skills.
That's why I'm so thankful for our educators who focus on fine arts, and so honored to participate in recognition of students excelling in these areas. I don’t like to imagine what the world would be like without the beauty of art in all its forms – painting, music, dance, literature and other disciplines.
Pablo Picasso famously said that, "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist when we grow up."
Former high school teacher Tony Wagner recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal about what he calls the three P’s: play, passion and purpose. "The play is discovery-based learning that leads young people to find and pursue a passion, which evolves, over time, into a deeper sense of purpose," Wagner wrote.
It’s this passion and purpose that will propel our young people into finding their own "joyful song," and living a life of rewarding success.
I believe creativity can transform Oklahoma from a state of creative possibility – into a state of creative action.