Humanities Teachers Attend Exeter Conference

Debbie Deppe, Derrick King,  Giancarlo Mascaro, and Teesha Renninger, all Middle and Upper School faculty, recently attended an Exeter Humanities Conference, taking a deep dive into student-led learning.

"The biggest take away for me was how the different disciplines handle and tackle Harkness discussions. For instance, within a sample math class, students (participants) were given an open ended task to solve within a small peer group, which was quite hard," said Giancarlo Mascaro, history instructor. "After not being able to complete the task, most groups faced frustration. But upon returning to a larger group setting, the students who were able to achieve the task were then able to lead and teach the rest of the class how they got to their end point. This was my 'A-HA' moment; when other students were able to lead the discussion and explain their reasoning; leadership at its finest. Harkness itself is student led and driven; however understanding how each discipline utilizes this technique can further benefit all educators."

The Phillips Exeter Academy conference, a one week intensive, was based on Harkness learning concepts and incorporating the methods in the classroom.

"The concept of creating a space for our youngest Middle School students to lead their own learning came alive during the classes I attended at Exeter," said Debbie Deppe, sixth grade instructor. "Trust and confidence in themselves moves into play for a successful Harkness discussion. We must question our connection to the ideas presented in a piece of literature and it should capture a student's interest and their own connection to stories and poetry."