Our Method

Our Method

Our school appreciates and uses
the Harkness Method in teaching

Developed at Phillips Exeter Academy, the Harkness Method is used by many of the most prestigious schools. Courses are taught around a large oval table, where students sit with their teachers. Philanthropist Edward Harkness created the Harkness Method in the early 1930’s because he did not believe his lectures were resonating with his students. He wanted to change his teaching approach from a lecture based method to more of a discussion and free flowing thought process. He believed he could better connect with students by engaging in discussion and fostering new ideas with small groups of students.
AITA has adopted this theory along with elements of the Harkness Method to challenge our students and teach them invaluable discussion and debate skills. This method encourages discursive and Socratic learning rather than traditional lecturing. Around the Harkness table, classrooms transform into personal and expressive havens.
Another relevant dimension by using this study method is connected to teacher-student relation.
Namely, teacher should use to 25% of total class participation and remaining 75% should be taken by students. This means teacher would need to initiate and control the student interactions, only provide them with certain guidelines and make sure they use appropriate sources and facts while sharing their opinions and arguments to other classmates.

The ultimate goal of using Harkness
Learning Method s to work on:

Advantages of the
Harkness traching method



Open discussion - Formal speaking

The ellipse shape allows for the teacher and the students to see the eyes of everyone around the table at all times. This encourages open discussion and promotes good listening skills such as eye contact, body language, and responsive mannerisms. With minimal intervention from the teacher, students lead discussion and determine the flow of conversation.

Critical thinking

Under the AITA direction and Harkness instructions, our students learn to listen to, speak about, and accept new ideas. The Harkness table is the centerpiece of the classroom and of the learning experience. Around the Harkness Table, our teachers guide discussion, encourage critical thinking, and help develop individual opinion.


These techniques have proven to improve not only the academics of the students, but also their critical thinking skills, confidence, and speaking abilities. The oval table is a crucial piece to our Socratic method of education that prepares students to excel at the next level. The ultimate goal is to create sharp thinkers, creative doers and confident leaders.