In 1971 an oil spill in San Francisco Bay jarred John Francis’ comfortable life. Even as he joined the volunteers who scrubbed the beaches and fought to save birds and sea creatures poisoned by petroleum, he felt the need to make a deeper, more personal commitment. As an affirmation of his responsibility to our planet, he chose to stop using motorized vehicles and began walking wherever he went. His decision was greeted with surprise, disbelief, and even mockery – but it was only the start of a much deeper transformation. A few months later he took a vow of silence that would last seventeen years. He learned to communicate his understanding and empathy without speaking a word. He walked across the Pacific Northwest, crossed the Sierra and Rocky Mountains, and traversed America from coast to coast. Along the way – and without a word – he earned undergraduate and Masters degrees in science and environmental studies and a PhD in land resources.
This is John’s TED address where hea talks about teaching and learning in his silence