By Jack Stein, Class of 2015
Part of what makes Westminster such a special place is its mission. Westminster is a school that prides itself on producing wisdom, virtue, and eloquence in all of its students. This is evidenced by every intentional detail surrounding the school, from the advanced curriculum that the school offers to the architectural layout of the building. More than anything else, Westminster is a place where students are equipped with knowing how to think with Christ being the center of Truth.
There is no better place to look for an example of the school’s mission than the Harkness Room, the focal classroom on the second floor centered around the long wooden discussion table that shares its name. The physical layout itself stands out from every other classroom in the building. Fifteen chairs encircle a singular table, which is directly located under a vaulted ceiling. Certainly, it is not a room that would be found in most schools. However, if one were to walk through the door and into the room, the conversation that would most likely be taking place would stand out even more.
The Harkness Room is one focused on quality discussion that point towards the truth of Christ in works of literature, philosophy, and world history. Students use the eloquence that they have acquired to articulate their positions on a given topic. The teacher sits anywhere around the table and simply guides the discussion. There is no spoon-feeding answers to the students. There are no lectures. There is simply a discussion. This approach to learning not only cultivates eloquence, but it forces the students to strive for wisdom as they present and defend their ideas to the rest of the class.
In the midst of all the back and forth stands Christ, the basis of our educational paradigm. Evidenced by the ceiling of the room pointing to the sky, all discussions are aimed at discovering truth and virtue–truth that is found in Christ and virtue that can influence the world.
The goal of the room is not to simply accumulate knowledge, but to hold a mirror to God’s wisdom and let it change the way the students and even the teachers view the world.