students sit around a harkness table

High school is different here

Find out why Harkness learning is all about collaboration.

At Exeter, Harkness is more than 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 was established in 1930 with a gift from Edward Harkness, a man who believed learning should be a democratic affair. It 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.

It's who we are

Harkness exists in every part of life at Exeter, not just academics. The confidence and connections you make at the table — the support you and your peers provide to each other — carry through into social, athletic, artistic and extracurricular pursuits.

Our differences are how we express our common humanity. Understanding that — valuing it — is what I think Harkness drives us toward."
Principal Rawson

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