Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Idioms, Wikipedia.


a. a unit, or single period of instruction in a subject; class
b. the content of such a unit
2. material assigned for individual study
3. a portion of Scripture appointed to be read at divine service
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.


Osnovy didaktiki. Edited by B. P. Esipov. Moscow, 1967.
Didaktika srednei shkoly. Edited by M. A. Danilov and M. N. Skatkin. Moscow, 1975.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
On coming into the room, Seryozha, instead of sitting down to his lessons, told his tutor of his supposition that what had been brought him must be a machine.
I'm to give three lessons a week; and, just think, Joe!
Now, my boys have studied all day, and Mac is still at his books, I've no doubt, while you have not had a lesson since you came, I suspect."
"Then learn from me, not to judge by appearances: I am, as Miss Scatcherd said, slatternly; I seldom put, and never keep, things, in order; I am careless; I forget rules; I read when I should learn my lessons; I have no method; and sometimes I say, like you, I cannot BEAR to be subjected to systematic arrangements.
told me he was from Berlin, very learned and good, but poor as a church mouse, and gives lessons to support himself and two little orphan nephews whom he is educating here, according to the wishes of his sister, who married an American.
"Monsieur Creemsvort," said she, in a whisper: for when the schoolrooms were silent, the directress always moved with velvet tread, and spoke in the most subdued key, enforcing order and stillness fully as much by example as precept: "Monsieur Creemsvort, that young person, who has just entered, wishes to have the advantage of taking lessons with you in English; she is not a pupil of the house; she is, indeed, in one sense, a teacher, for she gives instruction in lace-mending, and in little varieties of ornamental needle-work.
"If I had been you," said Ginger, "I would have given those boys a good kick, and that would have given them a lesson."
Small holes were cut in the front, through which the occupants watched the masters as they walked up and down; and as lesson time approached, one boy at a time stole out and down the steps, as the masters' backs were turned, and mingled with the general crowd on the forms below.
During these two weeks I was taught a lesson which I shall never forget.
"You can never cure a chicken-killer." Judge Scott shook his head sadly at luncheon table, when his son narrated the lesson he had given White Fang.
In the evenings everyone would have to repeat or to learn her lessons. As I crouched over a dialogue or a vocabulary, without daring even to stir, how my thoughts would turn to the chimney-corner at home, to my father, to my mother, to my old nurse, to the tales which the latter had been used to tell!
The owner of one of them has private lessons; she pays extra.