Beginning in 8th grade, Upper School students participate in Harkness discussion classes. Developed at Phillips Exeter Academy in 1930 to engage young boys to collaborate with teachers in classroom discussions and idea sharing, Harkness teaching is now embraced as a wonderful way to strengthen confidence, critical thinking skills, and reading comprehension through the in-depth discussion of topics in English or history. Students gather round a circular table so that everyone is seen and heard. The teacher begins the discussion with an essential question and then lively conversation takes flight being led by students. Each person must participate in the class providing thoughtful contributions to the discussion. Harkness is a favorite class among the Upper School girls.