First Guest: Victor Wooten
Trackers Fireside Chats are exciting opportunities to open our minds to new ideas through live-streamed conversations. Their focus is to represent a diverse range of experts and creative thinkers whose work can help us reimagine our world by addressing topics such as how we build relationships, nurture community, and connect with nature.
Our first Fireside Chat features Grammy Award-winning bassist, educator, and naturalist Victor Wooten. Victor has been touring as a professional musician since he was five years old and has been educating kids for over twenty years through his camps at Victor Wooten’s Center for Music and Nature. We discussed his book, The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music, and explored his experiences and perspective on learning, student-centered teaching, and the power of truly engaging experiences.
All guests who pre-registered for the Fireside Chat were invited to submit questions for Victor. Here are a few of our favorite moments from our chat:
The Power of Empathy in Education
We discussed paying attention to students’ interests and natural inclinations, using those to help educators teach. “The qualities we want to pull out of the students, we need to see them in the students and then do everything we can do to make the students see [those qualities] in themselves.”
The Role of Humility in Teaching
Victor believes that humility should govern the teaching process and teachers should seek to learn from their students. “My best definition of a teacher is just a professional student. We learned how to learn really well and we want to help you learn how to learn really well.”
The Power of Entertainment
Our conversation explored the importance of holding student interest. “Students don’t just want lessons, they don’t just want knowledge. If you can give them an experience that includes the knowledge, they will retain it because it’s wrapped up in an enjoyable experience.”
Leaning into Opportunities Created by the Pandemic
We talked about how the pandemic made us all pause and the importance of the civil unrest of 2020 and light being shed on systemic issues. “We should not want to come back to normal. Normal is what got us to this place. We need to far surpass normal and you do it by paying attention to where we are, not wishing we were somewhere else.”
Why the Fireside Chats?
At Trackers, we are on a journey to become a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable place. These terms have become buzzwords, but that shouldn’t distract us from the very practical and useful questions and work they prompt:
- Diversity: Do the people here represent a range of identities and perspectives?
- Inclusion: Do the people here feel an authentic sense of belonging?
- Equity: Do the people here have access to opportunities, resources, and support?
These questions may seem straightforward on the surface, but moving towards “yes” on all of them requires a mix of systemic and cultural changes. Moving towards diversity, inclusion, and equity, which are key components of anti-racism, requires us to practice introspection at all levels. It is a vital first step in gaining self-awareness and challenging ourselves to think and act differently. We are on a journey of change at an institutional level but we recognize that the heartbeat of Trackers is in day-to-day interactions on an individual level. We believe sharing stories and conversations in safe spaces is a powerful way to promote mutual trust and plant the seeds of change.
We will continue to listen, grow, and learn what it means to be truly helpful to one another. We hope you will join us for future Fireside Chats. You can find all the chats on our website, and registration details will be shared through our email lists and social media platforms.
If you’d like to learn more about Victor Wooten—his music, his teaching, and his fascinating life—visit his website at www.victorwooten.com.