Knowledge of the past allows students to understand the present, to consider their own beliefs, and to develop empathy for those different from themselves. To further these goals, the history curriculum at Exeter offers an historical perspective on the contemporary world and trains students in the skills of critical reading, speaking and writing.
Class discussions around the Harkness table focus on historical issues that challenge every student to think independently and to articulate ideas in a clear and well-supported fashion. "Why?" or "what do you think?" questions are more central to the history classroom than "what happened?"
As in class discussions, writing assignments focus on helping students develop clarity and sophistication with an emphasis on exposition and analysis.