Socrates sculpture glowing gold and black

By Ella Cisz, Susannah Smith, and Seneca Whittingham

What does it mean to forgive? As people see conflict escalate in the world every day, students at Harwood wonder if forgiveness and reaching out to those with opposing views is truly in our nature. Come discuss these philosophical questions in the Harwood Union library on December 6 at 6 p.m. when Harwood student leaders sponsor the first Socrates Cafe in three years.


A Socrates Cafe is civil dialogue at its best: a gathering of people from all different walks of life to discuss a prescient question that proves both timeless and timely through many perspectives. This method of dialogue uses probing questions as a way to encourage people to think deeply about themselves, as well as a sharing of ideas to deepen participants' understanding of the question. When asked about his opinion on these dialogues, Jonah Ibson said, “They’re really fun, super engaging, I love to listen to what people of all generations in our community have to say about timeless and timely questions.” The goal of these dialogues is to pose questions and topics that everyone can understand so that no special education or understanding of the topic is required. This offers the opportunity for people to explore their values no matter who they are and where they come from.


Harkness Leadership is an elective class taught at Harwood by Kate Stauss. Harkness Pedagogy, which originated at Philips Exeter College, is a form of dialogue that allows students to learn about topics through discussion. At Harwood, students use this method to look at literary texts and discover what it means to them and to the local communities. Students have also been learning how to take a leadership role in facilitating these conversations and are excited to be doing so at the Socrates Cafe.

Since 2010, Harwood Union has been hosting these dynamic dialogues, but they were interrupted by the pandemic in 2020. Studens are excited to be able to welcome the community back into the school to consider the questions of what does it mean to forgive? These dialogues will be facilitated by students from the Harkness leadership class. Questions may be directed to Kate Stauss at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Cisz, Smith, and Whittingham are seniors at Harwood Union High School.