Why You Should Use Table Topics in Your Adult Education Classroom

Conversation - John Wildgoose - Caiaimage - GettyImages-457983783
John Wildgoose - Caiaimage - GettyImages-457983783

Teachers of adults, whether they are corporate trainers or adult education instructors, know that adults learn differently than children and come to the classroom with lots to talk about. These students have life experience and want meaningful conversation, not superficial chit-chat. When discussion is a big part of your reason for being in the classroom, use Table TopicsTM to break the ice and help people engage. Then you can move easily into your planned topic.

There are several different versions of Table TopicsTM, each with 135 questions in a four-inch acrylic cube. Pass the cube around and ask your students to pick a card or two, or sort them in advance, choosing the cards that apply to your lesson plan.


  • Great questions that eliminate superficial chatter and start meaningful conversations.
  • Conversation from just one question can last an hour. It takes a long time to work through one cube.
  • The question cards are made of a sturdy cardboard, so they'll stay nice a long time.
  • There are several versions in different categories.
  • The acrylic cube looks modern, and maybe a bit hip, sitting on your coffee table at home or on your classroom shelf.


  • Each cube costs $25, a little hefty for some wallets.
  • If you're a traveling trainer, the cubes are on the weighty side, two pounds each, but the company does make travel versions.


  • Four-inch clear acrylic cube.
  • 135 conversation-starting questions.
  • A variety of categories from which to choose.

Expert Review

I picked up my first box of Table TopicsTM on a whim while shopping in one of those funky little shops you see in the artsy parts of any city. A four-inch clear acrylic cube holds 135 cards, each with a provocative question that is sure to inspire lively conversation. I bought the Original cube. It has questions like:

  • What would you most like to do for someone else if you had the money and time?
  • What fashion trend you followed was very cool then, but now looks ridiculous?
  • If you could have any view from your back porch, what would it be?

Tim and I still talk about the conversations that were inspired the first evening we opened the cube. He talked about his most memorable meal at Mother's in New Orleans. We're heading back soon to recreate that experience.

Since then, I've purchased the Gourmet and Spirit cubes. The Gourmet cube is fun if you're a foodie like Tim. It's full of questions like:

  • Do you have a food philosophy?
  • To what degree do you eat local, organic, sustainably grown food?
  • Which cooking shows do you watch?

Some people can talk about food forever. This cube is for them.

The Spirit cube has more questions that I would consider religious rather than spiritual, so there are some I put back without answering, which is usually against my own personal rules, but there are also some very good ones:

  • What makes something sacred?
  • Is there value in suffering?
  • Would you like to know how and when you'll die?

The Original cube is clearly my favorite. Its scope is broader and its topics are ones more appropriate for a general group of people, especially those who are strangers. In the classroom, unless you're teaching a specific topic covered by Table TopicsTM, I'd go with the Original cube.

Be sure to check out the Table Topics ice breaker!

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Your Citation
Peterson, Deb. "Why You Should Use Table Topics in Your Adult Education Classroom." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, thoughtco.com/table-topics-in-adult-education-classroom-31367. Peterson, Deb. (2023, April 5). Why You Should Use Table Topics in Your Adult Education Classroom. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/table-topics-in-adult-education-classroom-31367 Peterson, Deb. "Why You Should Use Table Topics in Your Adult Education Classroom." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/table-topics-in-adult-education-classroom-31367 (accessed June 5, 2023).