To Harkness or Not To Harkness

My apologies to Shakespeare! Whether a school uses the Harkness Table™ or doesn't use the Harkness Table™ is a matter of teaching style worth exploring in some detail. That is what you and I shall do in this little essay.
What's a Harkness Table™? Well, depending on how you look at it, it is a table. Some would say it is a method. We will look at Harkness™ from all angles so that you can understand it and decide whether sending your child to a school which uses Harkness Tables™ is something you value.
First of all, the Harkness Table™ gets its name from a wealthy philanthropist by the name of Edward Harkness. He was a graduate of historic Saint Paul's School Concord, New Hampshire. In 1930 he gave $5,840,000 (approximately $60,000,000 in 2015 dollars) to Phillips Exeter Academy with the stated purpose, among other things, of changing the way students were taught. About one third of Edward Harkness' gift was used for the tables and necessary alterations to the classrooms in which they were installed. The rest was used for a host of other projects at Exeter including the addition of new teachers and halving the class size.
In Harkness' own words: “What I have in mind is (a classroom) where (students) could sit around a table with a teacher who would talk with them, and instruct them by a sort of tutorial or conference method, where (each student) would feel encouraged to speak up. This would be a real revolution in . . . read more
Here's what we are looking at. Your daughter heads off to boarding school in a two months. She's got a horse and a cello and a raft of sports equipment including skis and field hockey sticks. You're going to need a truck to get her to school, right? It all depends. Let's review the items and equipment schools will allow her to bring and things she should not bring. Bear in mind that every school has its own unique rules and regulations concerning what can be brought on campus and what cannot.
Incidentally I remember quite vividly load our Dodge Caravan full to the brim with what I can only call 'stuff'. I never knew one young lady would need so much 'stuff' when she went off to boarding school. But she and her mother had determined what she needed and what could be left at home for another trip. I was comforted to discover dozens of other over-loaded vehicles at the school when we arrived to move our daughter in. And most of the fathers looked just as bemused as I did.
Let's start with the horse. Riding is an integral part of many boarding school athletic programs. If riding is important to your child, investigate the equestrian programs offered by the schools which you are considering. Our daughter had ridden in seventh and eighth grades. Fortunately for us, her interest in that expensive pursuit had waned by the time she was ready to go off to boarding school.
The following . . . read more
You will find two kinds of admissions in use at American boarding schools: admissions with a fixed deadline and rolling admissions. Let's take a look at rolling admissions and how it compares with admissions with a fixed deadline.

What is rolling admissions?
Rolling admissions refers to a school's practice of accepting applications within an admissions application window and acting on those applications within a couple of weeks or months as opposed to waiting until a fixed deadline to act upon those applications.
How does rolling admissions work?
Let's assume the rolling admissions window opens on September 1. You could submit your completed application on September 2 and expect to have a decision back from the school within a time frame from two weeks to two months. At a school with a fixed deadline for admissions you could submit your application on September 2 but not hear whether your child had been accepted or not until sometime in March, assuming the fairly common January 31 deadline.

Professor Allen Grove explains the various kinds of admissions in great detail. This is a longish but very thorough video which is well worth bookmarking for later viewing.

Many schools with rolling admissions have a priority deadline. You would be wise to submit your application well in advance of that deadline. Once all the places are filled, applications from candidates who would otherwise have been accepted will go on a wait list.
When is rolling admissions used?
Rolling admissions is used in 221 of the 297 boarding schools . . . read more
The boarding school choices available to international students are as immense as they are exciting. Boarding school fairs, like Linden’s Summer & Boarding School Expositions, are the most comprehensive way to start you on your path to studying at one of these prestigious institutions.
Throughout the year, we host events in all corners of the world to meet families, agents and consultants, and introduce them to our network of Premier Boarding Schools from the United States, Switzerland, Canada, United Kingdom, and other countries. The fairs are free, and organized months in advance to ensure you receive the most complete information.
When you come to an event, a team greets you and your family and guides you through the process of gathering information and meeting school representatives with programs suited to your goals and interests. Whether you're looking for a brief summer program, an intensive two-month summer course, a full academic year, or a Post-Graduate year, you have many options. Most schools have boarding programs for students ages 14-18. Some schools offer boarding for children as young as eight, and others often have Post-Graduate programs for students as old as 20. 
The fairs are held in central hotel exhibition halls typically in the afternoon to early evening. Families are welcomed in and asked if they are looking for a particular program, for example, summer programs featuring ESL in the United States. Using our expertise, we direct families to the schools with relevant . . . read more
Most boarding schools offer summer programs running about two weeks. If your child needs help with a subject like math, for instance, she will be able to find it. Ditto with enrichment. Summer boarding programs offer a special opportunity to sample a variety of subjects in a residential setting away from home.
Behind the scenes
Boarding schools run professionally staffed, fully insured and properly licensed programs. They have been doing it for years. They understand how to supervise young people. That's because they do it all year long.
The teachers are generally drawn from the school's academic team with adjunct faculty added as necessary for special programs. The support staff including kitchen and security professionals are usually the same team you will find on duty when school is in session. All these professionals have passed background checks.
Boarding schools have found that summer programs make good use of facilities which would otherwise be idle for several months over the long summer vacation. They also have learned that summer programs provide an agreeable soft introduction to the concept of going away to boarding school. Many parents send their children to a boarding school summer program to see how they will like it. Next thing they know their son or daughter is asking if they can go to that wonderful boarding school. Here is an example of what I mean.

What about the amenities?
Are meals provided? What are the meals like? Most schools offer three meals a day. Snacks are also available. . . . read more
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Recent Articles
To Harkness or Not To Harkness
To Harkness or Not To Harkness
Published August 02, 2015
Whether a school uses the Harkness Table™ or doesn't use the Harkness Table™ is a matter of teaching style worth exploring in some detail.
What are you allowed to bring to boarding school? What are you not allowed to bring to boarding school? Answers to those questions and more.
Two kinds of admissions are in use at American boarding schools: admissions with a fixed deadline and rolling admissions. We take a look at rolling admissions.