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Topic: What is the law?

Author: Anna Rabiega

Addressee:

high school / technical school student

Core curriculum:

  • old curriculum:

standard level:

2. Law and Courts.

The student:

1) explains the meaning of the law and the way legal standards differ from religious, moral and social standards;

2) lists the fundamental principles of law (law does not have retroactive effect, presumption of innocence, no guilt without law, ignorance of the law harms) and explains the consequences of their violation.

extended level:

29. Law.

The student:

1) explains the principles of hierarchy, consistency and completeness in the legal system.

  • new curriculum:

standard level:

V. Law of the Republic of Poland.

The student:

1) explains the difference between legal standards and other types of standards; lists the fundamental principles of law (law does not have retroactive effect, presumption of innocence, no guilt without law, ignorance of the law harms) and explains the consequences of their violation.

extended level:

XI. The legal system of the Republic of Poland.

The student:

1) distinguishes between sources from which standards in different legal systems derive (customary, case, religious, positive law);

2) explains the principles of hierarchy, consistency and completeness in the legal system and the term of a legal loophole; identifies types of law (international, national, local; private, public; substantive, formal; civil, criminal, administrative; written, unwritten).

The general aim of education:

The student characterises the institutions of the Polish legal system.

Learning outcomes:

The student:

  • explains what law is and how it differs from other normative systems (based on tradition, moral and religious standards).

  • presents the most important functions of the law.

  • analyses the fundamental principles of the law.

Key competences:

  • communicating in a foreign language,

  • digital competence,

  • learning to learn,

  • social and civic competences.

Teaching methods:

  • discussion,

  • Philips 66 method,

  • snowball method,

  • teaching conversation using interactive scheme, interactive exercises.

Forms of work:

  • self‑learning,

  • group work,

  • whole‑class activity.

Material & equipment needed:

  • computers with loudspeakers/headphones and internet access,

  • multimedia resources from the e‑textbook,

  • interactive whiteboard/blackboard, felt‑tip pen/a piece of chalk.

Lesson plan overview (Process):

Introduction:

1. The teacher presents the goal of the lesson: You will find out what the law is and what its most important functions are.

2. The teacher asks students to recall the social standards they know and to indicate what legal standards stand out among them. During the teaching conversation, the teacher may ask the students leading questions, e.g. concerning the formalised nature of legal standards (adopted by the relevant authorities in a particular procedure, written, precise, announced) and the inevitability of sanction (institutionalised and ensured by state coercion). The teacher asks the willing/selected students to write the conclusions of the discussion on the board.

Implementation:

1. The teacher informs students that they will determine a definition of the law (system) using the snowball method. The teacher informs that the hints can be found in the conclusions of the previous discussion. If necessary, the teacher explains the method. Firstly, each student writes down his/her own definition of the term. Then, the students pair and agree on a common definition (also writing down their comments and arguments). Then, the students form groups of four and later more numerous groups, each time negotiating a common definition. The task ends with the determination of a common definition, which is then written on the board.

2. The teacher asks students to compare their definition with the definition in the abstract. The teacher asks if they would like to supplement the definition they have written on the board in any way.

3. The teacher initiates a short discussion about the demands that a good legal system should meet. During the teaching conversation, the teacher may ask the students leading questions, e.g.

  • What are the legal loopholes? (completeness)

  • Have you heard of situations that are regulated differently in different legislative acts? (consistency)

  • How can situations of conflicting standards be resolved? (hierarchy)

The teacher asks the willing/selected students to write the conclusions of the discussion on the board.

4. The teacher divides the students into groups of six. The teacher informs them that using the Phillips 66 method they will determine the most important functions of the law and, if necessary, explains the method. Students work in groups of six for 6 minutes. After this time, presentations and confrontation of ideas to the whole class take place. Then, the students work again in their groups for 6 minutes to improve and complete their proposals. The stage of confrontation and group work can be repeated according to the students' needs. When finished, the representatives of the groups present the points agreed on by their group. The teacher initiates a short discussion about the ideas that seemed to be most important to the students and asks them to justify these statements. At the end of the discussion, the teacher asks the willing/selected student to summarize it.

5. The teacher asks students how they understand individual concepts of law (natural law concepts, legal positivism, legal realism), and what they think they consist in. Willing/selected students give their proposals. After the students present the way they understand the given concept, the teacher displays the „Basic concepts of law” scheme on the interactive whiteboard and reveals the explanation. The teacher asks a willing/selected student to read it and asks the students whether their conjectures turned out to be valid/what their statements missed.

6. At the end of this part of the lesson, the teacher informs students that there are some general rules that apply in most legal systems on the European continent. They date back to Roman times, therefore they were formulated in Latin. The teacher asks students to explain the meaning of individual rules by using the knowledge of Latin‑based languages (e.g. English). Students do Exercise 1 by matching the Latin maxims to their meanings and explanations.

Summary:

1. At the end of the lesson, the teacher asks the students a question: What else do you think you need to learn about law in order to be satisfied with the level of your knowledge and skills?

Willing/selected students give their answers.

2. Homework proposal:

a. The law is not the only system regulating people's behaviour. Compare what systems based on social, moral and religious standards are similar in and how these systems differ from the positive law system. Give one similarity and one difference.

b. Listen to the abstract recording to review the material and new vocabulary. Then do the vocabulary exercise at the end of the chapter.

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The following terms and recordings will be used during this lesson

Terms

unambiguous
unambiguous
Rulb14E5DC339
Nagranie słówka: unambiguous

jednoznaczny

to dispute
to dispute
Rps5Tbd4wYyIv
Nagranie słówka: to dispute

spierać się

to date back to
to date back to
RnZaON8QNGBpO
Nagranie słówka: to date back to

sięgać, pochodzić z

feature
feature
R1a2RXu5EWJHB
Nagranie słówka: feature

cecha

supremacy
supremacy
R1YyFmkRDyeES
Nagranie słówka: supremacy

zwierzchnictwo

subordination
subordination
RgZKcan60JGT5
Nagranie słówka: subordination

podporządkowanie

cohesive
cohesive
R1J0VfKYKmZeF
Nagranie słówka: cohesive

spójny

consistent
consistent
R6h1TAYJDMPVE
Nagranie słówka: consistent

zgodny

contradicting
contradicting
R1akHlF8NWpi8
Nagranie słówka: contradicting

sprzeczne

jurisprudence
jurisprudence
R1OLw4fQAGkAg
Nagranie słówka: jurisprudence

prawoznawstwo

in the last resort
in the last resort
RRAoTxGvjWQT0
Nagranie słówka: in the last resort

w ostateczności

state coercion
state coercion
R1J8hGzh0x6Ru
Nagranie słówka: state coercion

przymus państwowy

permitted
permitted
Rs61OhdEPDt0g
Nagranie słówka: permitted

dozwolony

prohibited
prohibited
RBAC36WIrm2Ev
Nagranie słówka: prohibited

zakazany

prescribed
prescribed
RIPHcpJEGGkbz
Nagranie słówka: prescribed

nakazany

by virtue of
by virtue of
RwTcUJAwMsH50
Nagranie słówka: by virtue of

na mocy

endowed by
endowed by
R15CtMD0dfRTq
Nagranie słówka: endowed by

obdarowany przez

binding
binding
R1WTu1tOI7rHf
Nagranie słówka: binding

wiążący

to mirror
to mirror
RqARYzK6uCItG
Nagranie słówka: to mirror

odzwierciedlać

to enforce
to enforce
RA8l5NZO2kYRu
Nagranie słówka: to enforce

egzekwować, wymuszać

merit
merit
RefxsJNoM3FWI
Nagranie słówka: merit

zaleta

irrelevant
irrelevant
R1FnpMLV2c180
Nagranie słówka: irrelevant

nieistotny, bez znaczenia

to emulate
to emulate
RPk2dxLtozWRW
Nagranie słówka: to emulate

naśladować

to rely on
to rely on
RHKKwaWTgN8bw
Nagranie słówka: to rely on

polegać na

empirical evidence
empirical evidence
RDwpQZ5YZpbgp
Nagranie słówka: empirical evidence

dowody empiryczne

pattern
pattern
RXmc7CNuk9VBZ
Nagranie słówka: pattern

wzorzec

equity
equity
RKJqbgSRAUn0i
Nagranie słówka: equity

sprawiedliwość (podziału dóbr)

exhaustive
exhaustive
RvEOHs1fjtQTu
Nagranie słówka: exhaustive

wyczerpujący

follower
follower
R18ck7j06u6Id
Nagranie słówka: follower

wyznawca

habit
habit
R1Bp5vLbFf8mN
Nagranie słówka: habit

zwyczaj

likely
likely
RrVC7Jlb9wGFe
Nagranie słówka: likely

prawdopodobny

to contradict
to contradict
R1c2C8oyP3tlU
Nagranie słówka: to contradict

zaprzeczać

maintenance
maintenance
R1cQyC5kgKIa1
Nagranie słówka: maintenance

utrzymanie, zachowanie

to satisfy
to satisfy
R1IH7dY8t5U3U
Nagranie słówka: to satisfy

zaspokajać

infringement
infringement
RhR0jvfzvRciJ
Nagranie słówka: infringement

naruszenie (prawa)

predictable
predictable
R1HsXG4WLbVXH
Nagranie słówka: predictable

przewidywalny

burden
burden
R9xTjnzH4GotB
Nagranie słówka: burden

ciężar

to resolve (disputes)
to resolve (disputes)
Rxq80o3uRA56Q
Nagranie słówka: to resolve (disputes)

rozwiązywać (spory)

retroactively
retroactively
R1baOwkoov9GZ
Nagranie słówka: retroactively

z mocą wsteczną

presumption
presumption
RbfGfZTOlQQxR
Nagranie słówka: presumption

domniemanie

to be considered
to be considered
R1TYjjnb7V8yH
Nagranie słówka: to be considered

być uważanym

innocent
innocent
R1JrJQKjXBDFb
Nagranie słówka: innocent

niewinny

prosecuted
prosecuted
R1SWFTNAStgV9
Nagranie słówka: prosecuted

ścigany

harmful
harmful
R1J6rSP7AEsjS
Nagranie słówka: harmful

szkodliwy

widespread
widespread
Rq5uDyqOFxYA9
Nagranie słówka: widespread

rozpowszechniony

Texts and recordings

RyV6JB8PIkxPv
nagranie abstraktu

What is law?

Formulating an unambiguous definition of law is not a simple task. The dispute over “what law is”, based on philosophy and legal theory, dates back to ancient times. In the formal sense, law is a system of norms, characterized by specific features, in force in a given territory. This system is:

  • hierarchical – legal norms remain in relation to each other (supremacy and subordination),

  • cohesive (consistent) – there are no contradicting norms within the system,

  • complete – regulating all aspects of social life.

The essence of the law is to determine the permitted, prohibited or prescribed behaviors, and the situations in which state coercion may legally be applied. The law was and remains the basic instrument of policy implementation. Nowadays, it regulates practically all areas of social activity, enabling solving conflicts between individuals and social groups.

The law is not the only normative system regulating people's behavior. Moral, religious and traditional norms play the same role.

  • Moral norms concern behaviors, attitudes and intentions that are evaluated from the point of view of such values as goodness, equity, justice. Establishing an exhaustive list of moral norms accepted by all members of a given community is very difficult, if not impossible;

  • Religious norms are binding for the followers of a particular religion, justified by reference to God (absolute);

  • Traditional norms regulate forms of behavior, shaped by tradition and habits, adopted in a given community in a specific historical epoch.

The legal norms often mirror other (moral, religious or traditional) norms functioning in the society, because then they are more likely to be observed. However, it is also possible for the law to contradict other normative systems.

Functions of the law:

  • stability – maintenance of the social, economic and political order in society

  • protection – ensuring the observance of selected values, as well as the rights and freedoms of an individual,

  • organisation – creating institutions to satisfy basic needs of society,

  • repression – punishment of infringements,

  • control – establishment of standards of behaviour to make them more predictable in order to increase the social sense of security,

  • distribution – ensuring fair distribution of social benefits and burden among the members of the community,

  • regulation – creation of mechanism and procedures to resolve disputes between individuals.

From the beginning of the existence of states, the law is one of the most important instruments of exercising power. In the last three centuries, the importance of law in public life has increased.

First of all, the law‑making process has been democratized. The universality of electoral rights and the development of forms of political participation other than representative democracy means that the circle of citizens participating in the law‑making process or influencing this process has grown significantly.

Secondly, we deal with the process of iuridisation of social life, which means, on the one hand, broadening the sphere regulated by law, and on the other hand limiting the meaning of other normative systems (traditional, moral or religious norms).

Thirdly, the principle of rule of law has become more widespread, meaning that the law governs the functioning of the institutions of power and limits the freedom of political decision making.