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  • Michael McMahon


Updated: Jan 16

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! “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!

If I went to university then I'd seek a grant to rent a double bed in student accommodation. I'd be optimistic in case I were to meet a partner! Although I'm not sure if the government would make such allowances!

Perhaps we should have a few nude images in each school textbook to remind students of their long term goals while studying!

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

With all the talk of exercise these days it'd be great if students could use rocking chairs in the classroom!

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!

What's the scéal! 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. There are plenty of small countries that speak their own language. Croatia for instance is made more vibrant by their distinctive language. It's partially understandable to the languages of their neighbours in the same way Irish could be for other Celtic languages. A problem with a coercive revival of the Irish language is the relationship between individualism and collectivism. Many European countries had the opposite problem to Ireland in that they were former colonial powers much like England. As such they've centuries worth of a deeply ingrained national culture. By contrast America is happy with a deeply individualistic culture simply because the state doesn't provide too much but nor does it ask for too much. So when we blend collectivism and individualism in Ireland we're going to end up cutting a lot of corners owing to the relatively young age of the Republic after independence. Or perhaps my reasoning is circular where if everyone took Irish more seriously we wouldn't be worried about its apparent demise! Simply due to economic pressures the country tends to be more individualistic than collectivist. So the aim is to convince poorer working-class children why they should speak Irish at home given their pre-existing hardship. An Irish revival would have to be bottom-up rather than the smaller middle class trying to persuade the much larger working class. The problem is that the whole point of learning Irish is to be seen as charitable towards Irish history such that presenting Irish as middle-class oriented isn't sustainable. Cool dudes at school asking a "céad" how they're doing are keeping the language alive! For most of the last century the country was very poor economically. As such previous generations may not have known the potential of the language given the complications with a lack of funding. However Ireland has had 30 years of relative prosperity from the Celtic Tiger and so we can't expect to use a lack of funding as an excuse. Paying every student to learn Irish would always work but this isn't feasible. If the Irish language hasn't yet succeeded then we need to fundamentally reconsider its promotional strategy. Governments might prioritise Irish in one budget only to forget about it in the following budget. As such protesting for more finance is unsustainable if the ambition is so high as to be a national revival of millions of people. Teaching hundreds of thousands to speak Irish while hoping for few thousand of them to speak the language in adulthood is a bit self-pitying. We need to teach the Irish language with a confident mindset to create a self-fulfilling prophecy! People are so good at speaking English that I don't think they'd comprise their first language by occasionally blending it with Irish! There's also a risk that mandatory Irish will be used as a compensation mechanism against other cultural problems in the state. For example the assimilation of immigrants into Ireland, economic recessions and anti-social behaviour in youths can't always be helped by a shared second language. A mixed language could even be promoted as a fashion rather than as a school teaching method. For example the government could simply promote partial Irish language interactions between businesses and customers. If we're going to indulge in restaurant meals or go to pubs for pints then we could surely redeem ourselves by saying a few Irish words to the staff! Speaking Irish at your home might be a great form of practice but is insufficient as a promotional strategy. After all you don't learn a new language just to speak to your relatives! To say the Irish language is a beautiful language is almost a defensive statement. After all no one would travel across the globe and claim that a nation had a harsh language barring those inappropriate relatives that visit Germany and joke about the accent's resemblance to WW2 movies. As such no one can say the Irish language isn't relatable when any neutral sounding language can be pretty depending on the context it's being promoted for. If the way Irish is promoted isn't changed then don't be naive and expect the participation levels in Irish to change. Emphasising spoken Irish in oral exams over written exams is an improvement but not a scientific guarantee of success. Future generations are on a trend of being more and more cosmopolitan and European. As such we cannot expect a sudden generational love of Ireland to save the Irish language. Serious intervention is needed when past generations were even more proud of being Irish and yet maintained a low level of the Irish language. Studying Irish as if it were Latin isn't necessarily bad. It'd just create a very formal vibe to Ireland. Yet students of classical studies don't learn any defensive skills as we would learning modern history. Rather the only way I could claim to have aquired analytical skills learning classical studies for junior cert is to have intoxicated myself on a purely evil pre-Christian world. Studying ancient Greece and Rome is formal simply because the empires were rooted in aristocratic evil. Students might find classical studies boring simply because we don't tend to empathise with the victims where everyone back then was evil! Perhaps we could learn history pieces in Irish in order to empathise more with the Irish language! Although history sessions would have to be diverse with accounts of Viking raids rather than Peig Sayers! If I wanted to create a mafia gang then classical studies would have been great on my CV! As such studying Irish in school to never use it as an adult would be at risk of imbuing the state with a capitalist or pompous attitude! Nonetheless learning Irish could still imbue uniqueness into your personality simply because no other country speaks it. Yet you could say the same about students of old and middle English. The problem with feeling special learning a language is that the sensation revolves around rarity which isn't the best promotional strategy! If adults aren't willing to greet each other with a mere "dia dhuit" each day then it makes very little sense to force young people to learn the language. Reviving a language might be difficult but it's not a fundamental mystery of physics. Ireland chose to be a capitalist country where students are faced with an unemployment threat after education. As such the Irish language must strive to not only be culturally relevant but also economically relevant. Ideally customers would be able to freely purchase tickets for Irish language show business and art.

(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 often hesitated when my French teacher read my name from the roll call as Michelle! I once got an indirect flight through Paris where the air steward walked down the aisle calling out Michelle Mahon for a pre-ordered meal. There was no way I was going to answer him! I forced him to walk back up to the top of the plane in order to check the exact seat number I was on!

People these days appreciate the tone of the Irish language. It's simply the general Kerry accent that we don't approve of!

"If sex sells and that's part of the reason why the Irish language is more popular; then I have a final suggestion. Why doesn't TG4 care who are responsible for that sexiness take it to the next level. Every night after midnight porn "ar" TG4 "as gaeilge"! That would be great because it would get everybody into it!"

(Des Bishop Late Late Show)

- I always assumed that was the redhead section but never dared venture that far!

The more violent English people were in history the more they focused on expressive vocabulary. Other English-speaking countries have the opposite problem where the more violent they become the more they mispronounce English words as a latent sign of anti-Englishness. It's as if we hardly need the Irish language when we already have so many regional accents to display ethnic pride! Perhaps schools need to focus more on teaching Irish language slang!

Don't ever leave a toilet blocked overnight or anyone who tries to wake you will think you're really sick!

OP... 54... 67, 76, 77 and 78 p4. 81 p5, 104 and 120 p 6, 123 p7, 146 p8

(Post 33 has a missing link for first quote. It's a YouTube clip titled: The Irish Language and Beauty | Dónall Ó Héalaí | TEDxBerkeley)

Irish p1
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I sent out a few letters about the mixed language and continuous education on the 13th February 2023:

In English class we were told to write a parody. It was at the time of the Tiger Woods scandal. I decided to title the essay "The Tiger and the Princess" instead of the frog. I read the fairy tale but couldn't express the humour in a form suitable for secondary school. I rushed some other story in the end!

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I did a science college interview in England a long time ago. I was up against an English professor and a German professor. I was asked if I was applying to the physics part of the science course as they corrected my initial test. This was either a genuine question in my application or a sign that I had failed my assessment! 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! I knew a small chapter on limits which might have confused them when I didn't know anything else on calculus. They looked sensitive and I asked them if they had a different figure to an astronomical question. They weren't too pleased! My watch alarm accidentally went off and they thought it must have been a mathematical watch! Needless to say I failed that interview! My application wasn't just declined but "rejected"! At least the tense interview made me fearless for all my other public pursuits like my blogging and tennis videos! Even if you don't get the course attending the open days at such posh universities is a good reminder to remain obsessed about studying!

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

I tried to ring my father once but rang the wrong number by mistake. I couldn't hear the speaker's voice too well and asked if he was my dad. He laughed and said no. It was only then I realised the awkwardness of the question!


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