Founded in 1781, Phillips Exeter Academy is a coeducational day and boarding school, known for its immersion in Harkness Teaching, in which a teacher and a group of students work together, exchanging ideas and information, around a table.
When Mr. Harkness tried out the first Harkness table, he couldn't see the eyes of every other person around the table. How can you have a meaningful discussion if you can't see the eyes of the people you're talking to? It was then the table was redesigned to be oval.
But another problem surfaced. The oval tables were too big to fit through Exeter's doorways. The solution: builders brought their materials to the classrooms and constructed the tables inside. This means that Harkness Tables really are part of the rooms in which Exeter's community learns, teaches, discusses, and collaborates.
Exeter today continues the commitment to unite knowledge and goodness. It seeks students who combine proven academic ability, intellectual curiosity, and tenacity with decency and good character. At the Academy, exacting inquiry and thoughtful discourse foster the life of the mind, instruction and activity promote fitness and health, and the daily interactions of a residential school nurture integrity, empathy, and kindness. Because learning and growth at Exeter arise from each individual's engagement with others, the richness of education here requires diversity in all its dimensions; students and faculty value the differences they bring to the community they share.