In year 2008 I had the good fortune of meeting with Professor Douglas Porpora, Ph.D. at Drexel University, who was head of the College of Arts and Sciences. He read my book, “Navigating The Mazeway,”and took the time to meet with me four times, during which he questioned me about my work. While I had no teaching experience, he was impressed enough to invite me to teach the courses as undergraduate electives. I ended up co-teaching the courses in the classroom and then online as an Adjunct Professor with Professor Wesley Shumar, head of the Dept. of Anthropology. He volunteered to teach with me when he learned that I was experiencing a hardship. It saddens me to mention it here that one of my daughters was dying, and I would miss some classes.
While I co-taught for five years, Professor Shuman continued until the courses had been taught at Drexel for eleven years. (When Drexel closed the Anthropology Department, Wesley was transferred to the Communications Department, where he was not able to teach the courses now but hopes to teach them again soon.)
By the way, my book was used as a text during several semesters of the Introduction to Philosophy course taught by Professor Frank Hoffman at West Chester University. Now retired, Professor Hoffman invited me to visit him through the HuaQiao Foundation in China to share the concepts of The Mazeway Project. While I did not travel to China, it was encouraging to be invited. Furthermore, in 2016, I was nominated for the Berggruen Philosophy Prize for my work on The Mazeway Project.
Elements of The Mazeway Project have gained traction in other institutions and among teachers and scholars as well. Parts of the Life Mapping and MetaVisioning courses have been modified to fit the philosophy course, Global Wisdom, taught by Jason Kunen at St. Andrew’s School, an independent boarding high school in Delaware. In the summer of 2019, Jason Kunen and I were invited to present an overview of The Mazeway Project at Temple University for the Study of U.S. Institutes for Scholars, a program sponsored by the U.S. State Department that invited professors from 18 foreign countries to discuss the subject of Religious Pluralism in the United States.
I am pleased to report that the feedback from students, who have experienced one, two, or three of the courses, has been very positive. Here are some examples of what they wrote:
- Thank you both for making this the best class I’ve had at Drexel. Never have I had such personal connections and open discussion with everyone in the room.
- Life Mapping made me think about myself and my future in a way that I have never done before. It allowed me to focus on myself, and think about what I really want to achieve during my life. It helped me define my true hopes, dreams, and ideals.
- One of the best courses I have taken. The things I have learned were enlightening, and everyone should participate (students and faculty) in a course like this.
- If this process (Life Mapping) would be incorporated into our educational curriculum, future generations would certainly have a better prospect of reaching their potential, and in doing so, society would benefit.
- I think what you’re doing has profound implications, especially if you continue to increase and broaden your audience.
- Thank you is all I have to say. I’ve been frustrated for quite some time during my education because there was a lack of interest in teaching some of the things that truly matter most in life. I feel that this class and the professors are exactly what need to be introduced into education. There are so many things that go untaught; it really is a shame. Push this as far as you can go. Seriously, you’re onto something big. I wish you all the success you deserve with this course. I think the course is a great idea, and a breath of fresh air from my daily class schedule.
- During two previous terms at Drexel, I was lucky enough to take two classes with Professor Wesley Shumar: Map Your Life and Social Mapping. Those classes helped me reflect on the major elements and institutions that contribute to society, as well as my own way of thinking and how I can begin to think beyond my own perspective. As a result of the success I found in the previous courses, I decided to pursue Tony Parrotto’s learning trifecta and register for MetaVisioning to gain even more clarity on those taken-for-granted aspects in life. It is safe to say I was not let down. Similar to Life Mapping and Social Mapping, Metavisioning has truly opened my mind up to the way I see the world. It is important to note that every human being experiences life in a different way. We see, understand, and interpret the same situations differently based upon how we grew up and what we have gone through. In essence, our perception is reality. It is both freeing and captivating to come to this realization after being
a part of Professor Shumar’s classes.
- I really enjoyed reading Tony’s book. It was honest and truly inspiring. It helped me understand the aims of the course and the reasoning behind it. I liked the discussion format
of the class, and enjoyed hearing the opinions of others, as it helped me to hone my own.
Judith S. Miller, Adjunct Professor of Human Development at Columbia University, Teachers College and author of Direct Connection: Transformation of Consciousness wrote a review of my book saying, “What causes this book [Navigating The Mazeway] to stand out among the rest is that the author gently and creatively guides readers through ‘the Mazeway’ so that they actually discover their deepest and most authentic selves. With erudite scholarship, down-to-earth practicality, psychological sophistication, and a coherent moral compass, Mr. Parrotto guides seekers through the Mazeway so that they may reach their potential as human beings. Parrotto accomplishes in this ingenious book what our educational and societal institutions have not been able to. A visionary masterpiece that may be just what our civilization has been looking for.”
I was very pleased with the positive feedback from students, teachers, and professors, but it also struck me how much it resonated with them. What did these courses offer that their other classes did not? Why did they feel transformed and comment that other people should take the course? I suspect that the emphasis of the course on introspection, reflecting on the origin of one’s own foundational beliefs, and whether their own perspective had been sufficiently questioned, developed students’ self-awareness in a way that they understood themselves in a new light.
S U G G E S T E D N E X T : Mazeway Dialogue and The Pursuit of Global Wisdom