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the main form of instruction in Soviet schools.
The lesson conforms to certain organizational principles: it occupies a set period of time; the composition of the students remains constant; it is held according to schedule, usually in a classroom or laboratory; and learning is collective. The lesson has a single educational goal that directs the activities of teacher and students and a defined structure that is dictated in every case by the actual circumstances and the rate at which learning material can be absorbed.
At the beginning of the lesson the teacher makes certain that the students are organized and supplied with the necessary materials. During the lesson the teacher ensures that the students understand, assimilate, and remember the information being taught. Students must master skills based on the assimilated information, acquire experience in creative activities, and absorb a set of norms and experience that will help them deal emotionally with the world and regulate their activities in it. The work of students and teachers is periodically supervised, and both are expected to monitor their own work. To these ends, certain educational tasks are accomplished purposefully at every lesson.
Lessons are divided into several basic types. They may involve the organized recognition and absorption of new information, the development of skills and abilities, or, in the problem-solving lesson, the cultivation of experience in creative activity. The “combined” lesson includes two or three of these lesson types. The traditional practice of setting aside a special lesson for reinforcing knowledge and testing students is incorrect—both goals are accomplished when knowledge is assimilated, when abilities and skills are developed, and when knowledge is creatively applied in practice.
Certain features are characteristic of the educational process in a properly organized lesson, regardless of the composition of the students, the teaching equipment, the personality of the teacher, or other factors. First, the interaction between teacher and students and the content and means of instruction are not only instructive but also help character formation. Second, students participate actively and develop cognitive independence; that is, they show the desire and ability to learn new things through creative inquiry. Third, there is a single educational goal to which individual elements or parts of the lesson are subordinate. Finally, the lesson and its parts are structured with a full understanding of what education means, the regularities governing the absorption of learning material, teaching methods, and the place of the lesson or its parts in the overall scheme of instruction, whether it is a topic, a subdivision, or a course.
The necessity for these features, which ensure the effectiveness of a lesson, reflect both the objective and the subjective nature of the teaching process. The teaching process is subjective in that much depends on the teacher’s understanding of the nature of education, how material is learned, and other matters. At the same time, observation of the requirements for a lesson does not limit the teacher’s creativity or dictate what methods the teacher shall use to accommodate the level of development and the special features of groups of students.
The lesson, as a form of collective work conducted by the teacher with the entire class, does not preclude group work by members of the class. Assignments are given so that knowledge can be absorbed and applied independently; students may do practical work requiring collective effort. Individual groups may be formed to encourage participation by particular students. Group study within the framework of the lesson is one way of individualizing instruction; individual assignments may also be given, allowing students to master the material at their own rate and allowing the teacher to set up a program for particular students.
To promote the mastery of the contemporary curriculum and related material, the lesson is supplemented by homework, which deepens the student’s knowledge and develops habits of independent work and self-education.
REFERENCESOsnovy didaktiki. Edited by B. P. Esipov. Moscow, 1967.
Didaktika srednei shkoly. Edited by M. A. Danilov and M. N. Skatkin. Moscow, 1975.
M. N. SKATKIN and I. IA. LERNER