The Hole

Author: Oyvind Torseter
Plot Summary: The protagonist of The Hole has discovered a hole in his apartment and tries to find an explanation for it. He seeks expert advice. But not everything can be explained. Perhaps he'll just have to accept that the hole is there? The Hole has simple, expressive drawings created by pen and computer, and there's a hole punched right through the book, so it really exists, even if it can't be explained.
Posted In: Metaphysics

Discussion Questions
  • Are holes part of the world?
  • Are holes physical objects? What are they made of?
  • If holes are made of nothing, how do we perceive them?
  • What makes something a hole? Does it have a shape?
  • Do holes really exist?
  • If you fill a hole, is it no longer a hole?


This activity takes place in silence, with all communication done in writing. It can be used for many of the books and other lesson plans in this book, with all ages.

Write three or four questions on the board related to the prompt, before breaking the students up into groups of three. Explain to the students that this is a silent discussion and there will be time to speak in both the small groups and the large group later. Let them know that once you have finished reading the story, the rest of the activity will take place in silence, using the poster board to communicate their thoughts and ideas to one another. The questions on the board are starting prompts.

After the story is read aloud, the students can respond to the questions and/or come up with new questions, using the poster boards. The written conversation can stray to wherever the students take it. If someone in the group writes a question, another member of the group can address the question by writing on the poster board. Students can draw lines connecting a comment to a particular question. More than one student can write on the poster board at the same time.

Afterward, still in silence and at your prompting, the students can walk around the room and read the other poster boards, adding written comments to the other boards as they see fit. After this part of the activity, they will have the opportunity to debrief verbally with their original small group.

Step One: After hearing the instructions, each group of three students receives a poster board and each student a marker or pen. Then read the story aloud to the students. The students, working in their groups of three, then can comment on the questions to each other and/or ask new questions by writing on the poster board, and proceed to have a written and silent conversation about the story and the questions it raises. This part of the activity takes 15-20 minutes.

Step Two: Still working in silence, the students leave their groups and walk around reading the other poster boards. Students bring their marker or pen with them and can write comments or further questions for thought on other Big Papers. This part of the activity takes 10 minutes or so.

Step Three: Silence is broken. The groups rejoin back at their own poster boards, and can look at any comments written by others. Now they can have a free, verbal conversation about the questions, their own comments, what they read on other poster boards, the comments their fellow students wrote on their poster boards, and the activity itself. This part of the activity takes 10 minutes or so.

Step Four: Class discussion — debrief the process with the large group.

  • What did you learn from doing this activity?
  • How comfortable were you staying silent?
  • What makes a discussion a good one? Give two characteristics of a good discussion and two characteristics of a poor one.
  • How does this activity contribute to or detract from having a good discussion?
  • What ideas or thoughts written on the poster boards particularly struck you?
  • What questions were particularly interesting to explore? You can also spend some time exploring these substantive topics with the group.