The Harkness Method: achieving higher-order thinking with sixth-form


By Simon Orth, Daniel Lacey and Neil Smith, published 14th June 2015

Hark the herald tables sing! Achieving higher-order thinking with a chorus of sixth-form pupils

On 9 April 1930, a philanthropist called Edward Harkness donated millions of dollars to the Phillips Exeter Academy in the USA. He hoped that his donation could be used to find a new way for students to sit around a table with their teacher and ‘feel encouraged to speak up'. This led to the development of what is now known as the Harkness method - a teaching approach attracting interest from many schools. When Simon Orth, Daniel Lacey and Neil Smith came across the method, 85 years after Harkness's donation, they found themselves agreeing wholeheartedly with Harkness's aims. In this article, they explain what the method involves and how they integrated Harkness principles into their sixth-form schemes of work. Their reflections on the method report beneficial effects on pupils' reading and writing, promoting a climate of independent learning...

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