Children everywhere exhibit a wonderful drive to know, to wonder, to invent; adults are frequently less daring. What nourishes the need to create in some human beings and discourages it in others? The development of the power and individuality of a voice -- that is, a distinctive approach to puzzling problems in the arts or sciences -- is a long and complex process. It builds on talent and opportunity as well as on a mixture of humility and self-confidence. Illustrative of this is a comment by Sir John Gielgud, England's great actor, who said in a newspaper interview while in his seventies: "I think I am getting a little confidence now."
The earliest sources that creative individuals draw upon are linked to childhood play; to the many long hours they have spent entranced by nature, by the play of lights, or by a book. Psychologists have long stressed the role of such childhood play and engagement as it continues to fuel the adult mind bent on overcoming the hold of the known.
Gaining mastery of the tools of one's art or discipline stretches over many learning settings. The apprenticeships of the young scientist are more carefully sequenced and organized than those of the young artist. Nonetheless, in all fields, the personal interest of a caring and knowledgeable adult is critical, just as it is in encouraging youngsters to reach for their potential. But during the lengthy periods of growth, one's models are not restricted to people nearby. Many individuals also learn from the legacy of "distant teachers." Thus varied paths through the past as well as the present are pursued before one achieves a distinctive voice, a creative identity.