The Harkness Classroom
In courses of study for older and younger students, classes at Exeter are small - no more than 12 or 13 students in a section - with students engaging in seminar-style discussion. The Harkness plan, which originated at Exeter in 1930, calls for an oval table in each classroom and places students at the center of the learning process. One student described classes at Exeter by saying: "I love the Harkness table and the way in which teaching here respects the student. Students teach other students." Under the guidance of an expert teacher, you will have the opportunity to learn in classes where instruction focuses on ideas brought to the table by the students themselves. There are no lecture classes at Exeter.
For many Exeter Summer students, the small size of classes and level of participation expected contributes to an exciting new experience. The dialogue around the Harkness table will help you develop skills in expressing your opinions and considering those of others. You will discover what it means to explore materials on your own and to share the process with your teacher and classmates. Because Harkness classes are uniquely suited to encouraging interdisciplinary work, a number of courses take advantage of this approach, allowing you to make connections among several areas of study. As another student said of the experience: "In Germany, where I am from, we sit at single desks in rows. It's much nicer to sit together around one table because it is more personal. I like having all of us learn together, instead of just learning from the teacher."