A lesson is a structured period of time where learning occurs. It involves one or more students (also called pupils or learners in some circumstances) being taught by a teacher or instructor. A lesson may be either one section of a textbook (which, apart from the printed page, can also include multimedia) or, more frequently, a short period of time during which learners are taught about a particular subject or taught how to perform a particular activity. Lessons are generally taught in a classroom but may instead take place in a situated learning environment.
In a wider sense, a lesson is an insight gained by a learner into a previously unfamiliar subject-matter. Such a lesson can be either planned or accidental, enjoyable or painful. When people "teach someone a lesson", they punish or scold them for a mistake they have made in order to ensure that they do not make the same mistake again.
Types of lesson
There are many different formats and structures of lessons:
- One teacher/instructor with many students
- Private tuition (one-on-one teaching)
- No teacher presence, perhaps a formal learning time with use of textbooks or multimedia
Pre-recorded tapes have been a popular method of learning, particularly for foreign languages and modern techniques such as video conferencing have allowed teaching to be undertaken without the students or teachers being in the same room.
Teachers and instructors usually have a lesson plan which dictates the structure of the teaching. A group of lessons may be linked together in a scheme of work. The detail of the plan may vary with some being a simple list of what is going to be taught in a lesson with others working to a strict methodology, including a time plan and the learning aims and objectives.
When creating the lesson plan it is usual to look at the following:
- The aims and objectives of the lesson
- The number of attendees and the student-teacher ratio
- The previous knowledge of the learners (which may or may not be the same for all)
- The motivation of the learners (school students, for example, have no choice but to attend)
- The time required for each section of teaching and learning
- The resources required and available
- Catering for the different learning styles of the individuals
The word lesson comes from Latin lectio "the action of reading (out)". From there, the word was also used for the text itself, very often a passage from the Bible read out during a religious service ("first lesson", "second lesson"). Finally, any portion of a book to be studied was referred to as a lesson.