Curiosity & Collaboration: The Harkness Method

In grades 9-12, classes are held around oval Harkness tables where students and faculty engage in collaborative discourse, and every student is expected to be an active participant in the exploration and discussion of ideas. This approach to learning fosters deeper understanding and respectful dialogue among students, and alumni often mention the Harkness method as an element of their Ensworth experience that was key to their success in college.

"The Harkness experience provided me with four years of practice and constructive criticism in how to engage in meaningful class discussions. This style of learning forced me to consider and analyze the material deeper than simply just regurgitating facts. I feel like the Harkness experience has given me a considerable advantage over my fellow students at Vanderbilt when it comes to class discussions and debates." -Burrus Cox '13

"I am eternally thankful for the skills and confidence I gained during my Harkness experience. Not only did I learn how to be an active participant in group discussions, but I also learned how to listen, question and debate with my classmates. This experience proved extremely valuable in college, as I was comfortable participating in class discussions and pushing conversations into more in depth topics." -Alyssa Patel '10

"It wasn't the knowledge I gained at Ensworth that benefited me the most in college but the way I gained it. Ensworth's culture of asking questions, discussion, and caring about learning more than fact consumption is what sets it apart and is what I loved most about it." -William Joy '10