The Harkness Table
Education in the round abounds at Regents. Thanks to the Gala 2006 proceeds we added to our furniture in symbolism and substance this fall. With the purchase of 2 more Harkness Tables, we now have a total of five in the School of Rhetoric for all the Humanities and Bible/Apologetics classes.
The high school conducts Humanities courses (Literature and History) around a large table that seats sixteen students. Teachers are trained to facilitate and lead group discussion. Picture in your mind the Apostle Paul openly discussing the attributes of Christ in Athens. Or, consider the calm tone of Isaiah's appeal in Isaiah 1:18 "Come let us reason together, though your sin is as scarlet it shall be white as snow." Or consider the demeanor of Socrates when he said to a group of young men, "the unexamined life is not worth living." At the Harkness Tables we are seeking and finding Truth.
As the students discuss and the teacher facilitates, the students evaluate one another. One student has a graphing chart that visually illustrates the flow of the conversation. The chart shows who may have talked too much or not enough, who brought out the obvious salient points and other little evaluative details. Students come prepared to class to discuss the reading, and they must participate verbally each day. No hiding here.
We develop substantial learning skills, but beauty abounds as well. The new tables are not just tables. They are hand-crafted twelve foot oval tables by a friend of Regents in West Texas. His love for wood and detail create a work of furniture art. The craftsmanship is evident in the 10 inch wide mesquite planks; and the elephant-like legs will withstand many years of teen use. Adding the right tone of stain brings out the wood swirls God intended us to see.
It is in the environment that our students hone their rhetorical skills like: 1) speaking up with confidence 2) adding to a conversation 3) disagreeing with substance 4) disagreeing agreeably 5) listening to understand and not just dispute 6) admitting ignorance in vulnerability and 7) critical thinking skills used on their feet. No pop quiz could produce such things.
So, who can see these mesquite tables? Everyone. I timed the walk from the carpool circle. It is only a three minute walk. If you have a little time, you can make the walk and peer in anytime. The best times would be before or after school