Today I sacrificed a walk in the hills with friends I haven't really seen in a while on the altar of fretting-about-study-stuff. Not an even trade but one I am, on balance, glad I made.
At the beginning of last week I was comfortably, well, comfortable. By the time a week in Scotland had gone by, with its associated work-related stresses, living in a hotel, and despite being insociable in order to study, I foud myself too tired to concentrate with any degree of success. Come yesterday and the study-related stress was in full flow, not to mention the absolute weariness coming from the week that was.
This morning I plowed on, and in a little over four hours manage to claw back the deficit and get back on track. Unfortunately this unit (8 – State of Mind) looks to be more complicated and involved than the previous one (7 – Unlawful Conduct). Brain to the fore this week then.
One of the pleasing things to come out of last week (well, two weeks previously, if I am being accurate about these things) was receipt of my score for my first assignment – a rather pleasing and somewhat terrifying-for-the-future-standard-setting 94 out of 100. Maintaining this level of competence (called the Jackson Standard after a friend who scores nothing but Distinctions on her course) is going to be quite the challenge.
The feedback was equally pleasing, and gave good pointers as to how I could improve in future assignments. I am very happy with the support so far – the feedback from this assignment feels at about the right level for me, and the tutorials themselves are interesting and varied, and very useful. On that note, I am somewhat surprised that, out of 22 Bristol based students, only 3 or 4 attend, with an additional person from another region. I think they may be missing out on something that could be quite beneficial.
One of the things I am realising is that whilst we may blather on about and have opinions on the law and decisions made in court, there are a number of rather complex systems, both mechanistic and philosophical, that determine the results and outcomes. Rather like electricity, I know there are systems for delivering it to my iPad or MacBook Air, but it is only on investigation that I begin to understand and appreciate the complexity that goes in to that happening.
The complexities that sit behind the law rest on simple principles that, in combination and conflict with each other, give rise to this interlocking system of, well, complexity. This is further complicated by social, economic and technological change. Laws and systems evolved to meet an era's needs have to continue to adapt to the growing complexity of society and its accoutrements, all without sacrificing the other core principles on which they stand; stability and predictability.
One of the assumptions that the course makes is that Parliament is the democratic and supreme legislator. This is correct, limited by the structures and flexibility of the system of democracy practised. Whilst another assumption is that law moves to keep pace with social change, it would be interesting to understand how much of legislation is enacted to slow down that change, although this may be a judgement coloured by political leanings. The balance between natural social change and politically led social change is probably unimportant, given that only so much law can be proposed, drafted, processed, enacted and enforced within a political term, and by the fact that Parliament itself cannot enact law that cannot be changed by following Parliaments.
I think that is what I find fascinating about law, and what drew me to studying it in the first place; that tension between social, economic, technological and political needs and how that is evidenced in a framework that both serves and defines society.
And as with everything, I wonder that I will look back in three, four or five years and wince at the shallowness of my understanding and the naivete of my thinking. A natural path for any student, I guess.