• Michael McMahon


Updated: Apr 8

My first year maths teacher was correcting the homework questions in class. He asked those who got an incorrect answer where they went wrong and then gave them some helpful comments. I told him my mistake was that I mixed up a number 1 with an eleven and he abruptly told me to stay off the drugs before continuing on with the rest of his lesson!

https://www.irishpolitics.net/threads/continuous-assessment.741/ “In mathematics, we refer to the point of intersection where a point meets two lines or curves.”

It’s fun how maths these days always has to give real life examples to engage students. So if you wanted to admire a pretty face without giving them the eye, weigh up their relative velocity and adjust your vision to an object ahead of them such that they’ll passively walk into your line of sight!

(Remember the Name - Fort Minor)

I'm not sure about you but I actually found myself adding up the percentages in the above rap tune. It'd really increase the appeal of maths if we could create a "street maths" chapter in the curriculum. For instance there might be a question, "Crystal meth sold out x amount will yield a profit y for each individual unit sold. What will be the profit for the month given the sell rate below?"

There's one or two of my cousins that could really contribute to the English language with their slang. What I found most impressive was their catch-all adjectives. The tragedy on the news and the cool new video game were both "fierce". "Fair enough" was how they replied to some of my achievements and losses! I'm wary of using slang myself. I meet an older acquaintance on the street sometimes and for some small talk I used to always ask him if he'd any plans for later or tonight. He initially responded "bed" but he got more frustrated each time I asked. He thought I was referring to partying when really I just meant if he was watching TV or something!

I'd an English question in class to write a formal letter. I thought formal meant posh so I wrote, "On this fine summer's evening I write to you... That is as be it the case." I was later informed that formal actually means professional and that I was to begin with "Dear Sir/Madam" in the future!


How did that Italian guy "Anonymous" write so many poems?

One of my earliest memories was a trip to Inis Oirr. I can remember the boat ride and we did a lot of cycling. I went there again when I was 15 for the Gaeltacht. The sheer uniqueness of the landscape makes the Aran Islands very scenic and traditional. I haven’t been to all the other Irish speaking areas yet. Might the Irish language benefit from designating a symbolic capital region? Who’d be the contenders? Or perhaps is it best to promote the culture of each district equally?

When I was in primary school I told my Serbian friend that my brother is named Oisín (oh-sheen) and he was convinced that it sounded like a Japanese name. Perhaps we could have some fast oriental pronunciations of Irish words! "Tah-may-goh-ma" for an accelerated "tá me go maith"!

I used a seanfhocal against the teachers!


Of course I support efforts to maintain and revive the Irish language. I’ve been to the Aran Islands and Connemara several times and it’s always invigorating to hear it spoken fluently. It’s great that it’s used for functional communication purposes in Gaeltacht areas. But outside of these regions, I think we cannot simply rely on national symbolism alone to promote the language. I don’t have all of the answers but a secondary mixed language in conjunction with the main full language might make it easier to speak recreationally. Moreover I think it’s unnecessary for it to be a general entrance requirement for courses that are unrelated to the arts and languages in the different universities. For example, students in England don’t have to study the English language for their A-levels. Irish was made mandatory 100 years ago and despite it failing to significantly increase the number of daily Irish language speakers the education department decided not to reassess this particular policy. I agree that we should be ambitious in supporting the Irish language but maybe not to the extent that it becomes a bit over-ambitious. I'm not opposed to compulsory Irish in introducing the language to students in primary school or the junior cert but to continue it the leaving cert is quite a commitment.

(Irish tape test question:

What is the weather like in Donegal town according to the shopkeeper?

Mischievous thoughts occurring in the back of my mind:

1- What would I ever be doing in Donegal?

2- Why of all things would I ask them about the weather when inevitably it’d be lashing rain outside.

3- Even though I didn’t hear the tape properly, I’ll just write down “Tá sé fliuch go craiceann” to be on the safe side.

Disclaimer: no offence meant to Gaeltachts outside of Donegal!)


I did a science college interview in England a long time ago. I was up against an English professor and a German professor. They were playing good cop bad cop where one was asking tough questions while the other was more relaxed. But they forgot about their accents when they decided that the English guy would be the good cop while the German professor played the bad cop. So whatever help the English teacher offered me sounded extremely sarcastic and the tough questions the German professor asked appeared extra tense. I told them I didn’t know but I think they were just waiting to see if I could independently rediscover the laws of calculus hundreds of years later! Needless to say I failed that interview! My application wasn't just declined but "rejected"!


I’ve two posts near the top and bottom of page 6 and also the first two posts on page 7.


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