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High school teacher and student talking in the quad
The Harkness table is a physical reflection of the principles of the Ensworth experience: Each person carries equal responsibility in the vigorous, joyful learning process.
The Harkness table forms an integral part of the identity of the High School. The school motto, In Search of Truth, advocates active rather than passive learning. It physically unites the class, bringing teacher and students together to facilitate face-to-face interaction. It enforces the importance of listening and speaking with respect. It also demands of its students both preparation for class as well as sustained engagement during class. Directly associated with Harkness tables is the Harkness Method of instruction, a student-centered, student-directed dialogue among equals where teachers become fellow participants in the search for truth, rather than the dispensers of it.

The Harkness Method is a fundamental component of the High School learning experience because the Harkness Method guides the practice of the Core Skills. Each department that utilizes the Harkness Method as a setting for academic achievement (Art, English, World Languages, History, Science, and Seminar) recognizes the importance of community-based application of the Core Skills. The Harkness Method promotes collaboration and communication in the face of varying and contrasting points of view. Students may always question the teacher, but in discussion are encouraged to question each other. Observations and speculations are more likely to be diverse and comprehensive. Students learn to evaluate and apply knowledge on the spot and with the aid of their classmates. Harkness pedagogy encourages the patient and respectful use of the Core Skills. In this setting, the Harkness method takes a central role in the acquisition and practice of the Core Skills. Ultimately, the Harkness Method fosters a community of learners who value the richness of human interaction, believing it to be at the heart of learning.

“Ensworth’s use of the Harkness  Method taught me the value in collaboration, working with others, and achieving greatness together rather than individually.”


The Harkness Method

Harness Table discussion at Ensworth