What is the Harkness method?


Christine VanDonge, Christine VanDonge

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The Harkness Method is used to engage students and teachers in a collaborative learning experience. Students sit at an oval (round) table with their teacher. The involvement of the teacher may vary from setting to setting (or subject to subject). It allows students to voice their own thoughts and ideas while also learning from their peers knowledge/set of experiences. In addition, it may open students up to perspectives they had not previously considered. This method assumes that students come to class prepared to discuss and share. In quick search of literature articles to either support/not support this method, I was not able to find any, but hopefully this gives you an idea about the method.

Nedda Gilbert, MSW, Educational Consultant, and Author

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Just to note, the Harkness Method is especially used at many private high schools where the small class sizes allows for this kind of table in the classroom, and hence, the teaching methodology. It's more like sitting down to dinner with the teacher - and having a roundtable discussion - than the traditional method of having a teacher at the front of the room lecturing or speaking.

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