At Exeter, Harkness is not a pedagogy. It’s a way of life. It begins in the classroom and extends beyond it, to field, stage and common room. It’s about collaboration and respect, where every voice carries equal weight, even when you don’t agree.
Exeter’s Harkness method, established in 1930 with a gift from Edward Harkness, a man who believed learning should be a democratic affair, is a simple concept: Twelve students and one teacher sit around an oval table and discuss the subject at hand.
What happens at the table, however, is, as Harkness intended, a “real revolution.” It’s where you explore ideas as a group, developing the courage to speak, the compassion to listen and the empathy to understand.
It’s not about being right or wrong.
It’s a collaborative approach to problem solving and learning. We use it in every discipline and subject we teach at Exeter.