LiD Topics

Even if you are familiar with the discussion and array of topics that appear in the Learning in Depth book, you might want to note that the lists below include many more topics than appear in the book, and exclude some topics suggested in the book. We have been learning from experience!

Students’ choice of their topic: Experience has very largely supported our counter-intuitive arguments that it is better to randomly assign topics to young children beginning their LiD programs. A little to our surprise we are finding that LiD is being introduced to students at every grade level in some school somewhere. We recommend that by about age 9, 10, or 11 students should increasingly be given choice in their topics if they begin at those ages, and the older, the more freedom of choice. For students from about ages 9 to 13, we recommend that they choose from among the set of topics in the first matrix below. For students from about ages 14 to 18, we recommend only they adhere to the criteria below in choosing their topics.

Let’s begin by stating the criteria we can use in order to select topics. These are taken from Chapter 5 of the book and to the degree that they aren’t self-evident here they are explained there.

Criteria for selection of LiD topics

  • sufficient width
  • sufficient depth
  • sufficient connections with the self—cultural, imaginative, and emotional ties
  • not too constrainedly technical
  • sufficient local resource materials available for adequate access
  • not too general or too unconstrained (e.g. animals is too general, tigers is maybe OK, but cats is optimal)
  • not focused on the more depressing features of human existence nor on common phobias
  • each topic must provide an equivalently rich experience for all students
  • each topic must be acceptable to the student’s parents or caregivers (i.e. matters of cultural sensitivity and ethics also need to be considered in the allotment or choice of topics).

In the book there is an array of topics that were suggested as suitable for LiD programs in schools. With some experience, and after soliciting help from a number of people involved with LiD, we have revised the set of good topics. They will appear in two lists, which we made available as a PDF download. The first list is a set of topics which seem to work best and meet all the criteria above very well. Thanks to the kind people who made suggestions that have added a significant number of new topics and also for suggesting on good grounds the removal of topics in the book’s list. The second list is a set of topics that seem to have some value, but about which some questions have been raised.  We would be grateful for any suggestions for additions to the first list in particular.

Suitable LiD Topics

Agriculture Air & Atmosphere Aircraft & Airports Amphibians Antarctica
Ancient ruins Animal habitations Ants Apes & monkeys The Arctic and Antarctic
Apples Bats Bears Bees Beetles
Birds Bridges Buildings Butterflies and moths Castles
Cats Cattle Caves, Mines & Tunnels Cells Cereals & Grains
The circus Clothing Color Cooking Coral
Cosmic objects Cotton Counting systems Crustaceans Dance