The classical method is a unique form of transmitting and assimilating information in comparison to the traditional American model of education. Having taught history within both systems, I find myself drawn to the classical model. My training is in historical research, which lends itself strongly to the classical method. In the traditional American education structure, history is taught in a mostly linear method, encapsulated in pods or units. This lends itself well to testing surface information such as multiple choice and true/false questions. Memorizing dates and lists becomes important and necessary. This prepares you well for national standardized testing. Teachers hope the principles behind the facts are understood and comprehended, but many times are hard to ascertain. AP classes are the closest to the classical approach with the emphasis on traditional questions plus essay questions.
The classical model follows more of the European model of education. History classes are taught horizontally by comparing different events happening around the world at that time. Literature, inventions, and concepts of why something happened, and the results of the event will be included. The instructor is leading the students with facts to understand and conclude about the event, including both sides of an argument. Reading original documentation, discussions, essays, and debates are employed liberally to gain understanding and mastery of the concepts taught. A teacher will watch their student bloom in understanding concerning why things happen and what the ramifications are for their future. Reading related books and original letters from famous people in history causes them to come to life, springing off a textbook into a multi-dimensional person. Our goal at Providence is to inspire a love of history and learning in our students.