Ambassador High School

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Harkness Teaching Method

Harkness Teaching Method

In 1930, a philanthropist Edward Harkness made a substantial donation to Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire and stated, “ What I have in mind is teaching boys in sections of about eight in a section . . . where boys could sit around the table with a teacher who would talk with them and instruct them by a sort of tutorial or conference method, where the average or below average boy would feel encouraged to speak up, present his difficulties, and the teacher would know. . . what his difficulties were . . . This would be a real revolution in methods.”

The result of this donation was “Harkness Teaching,” in which a teacher and a group of students work together, exchange ideas and information, around a table. In 2013, five teachers from Ambassador High attended the Summer Institute at Phillips Exeter Academy to practice and learn “Harkness Teaching.” Then in 2014, Phillips Exeter donated three harkness tables to Ambassador High School.

Flipped Classroom

Students watch lectures and complete their readings at home while asking questions of peers and teachers via online discussions. The following day students begin concept engagement in the classroom around the Harkness table with guidance and facilitation from the teacher. Through this type of instruction, students learn to think critically, listen analytically, and interact respectfully.