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A Different View

The Leaving Cert – a nightmare that just keeps on giving

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Even those who sleep the sleep of the innocent always have one recurring nightmare – it invariably involves a question you’d never anticipated coming up in the Leaving Cert.

And if there’s a week in the year when that doomsday scenario unfolds to upset your slumber, then it’s currently galloping over the horizon like a posse on the trail of a gang of cattle rustlers.

Because this is Leaving Cert season – the one time of the year that weather forecasters can take their holidays, secure in the knowledge that the sun will be splitting the rocks, as the condemned make their way into the study hall with all of the anticipation and bravado of a turkey two weeks before Christmas.

For the rest of us who walked that same walk sometime well back in the last century, the butterflies grow no less intense – all the moreso if one of your own is now going down the state exams route.

Are you sorted for the theorems? What formulas are tipped this year? Will the poet be Plath, Bishop, Wordsworth, Shakespeare, Hopkins or Derek Mahon?

You’ll never have nightmares about College exams or job interviews, because you’ll never be as stressed about any of those things as you will be on the morning of English Paper 1 (Honours or Ordinary Level) next Wednesday morning at 9.30am.

And it’s no consolation that it’s full to the brim of stuff that you’ll never again need for the rest of your life.

I mean, can you imagine a group of oul’ fellas ruminating over their pints, discussing just how Shakespeare’s sonnets provide a fascinating insight into his views on love, death and morality?

And would your life be any less complete if you didn’t know that, if three parallel lines cut off equal segments on some transversal, then they will cut off equal segments on any other transversal?

But that’s the bread and butter of the Leaving Cert – ridiculous questions and absurd formulas about things that are utterly irrelevant to real life because they couldn’t think of anything practical to ask you about.

And in turn – to beat the system – the teachers have spent years coming up with stock answers for these great imponderables…answers to be learned off in advance of the exam, retained for all of three hours and then dumped into the darkest recesses of your maturing mind.

Take this nugget from one helpful student as to how you deal with the ‘poetry question’ – and in fairness this at least offers some nod towards learning.

“Learn an intro and conclusion for each poet and tweak it to the question. Then do about a paragraph or two on each poem and then add a paragraph relating to the question. That’s it really; that’s how I do all my poetry essays.”

Such gems are all over the internet; you can get your hands on full sets of notes – so many that you probably wouldn’t need to go to school at all if you had fibre-optic broadband – or you could trouser up the thousands for cram schools which specialise in showing the short-cut to examination success.

Part of this is down to the fact that students are now locked into this world of academia for longer than ever before. And it has evolved in a manner that suggests it was more by default than design.

In our parents’ time, the Group Cert was the height of most families’ ambition – indeed many didn’t make it past primary school.

But then it because the Inter Cert and gradually – in our time – it was the Leaving. But now a degree is the new Leaving Cert, a Masters is the new degree and a PhD isn’t as farfetched as it was in the good old days.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

How to win elections with the promises you can keep

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Dave O'Connell
Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

The man who was already the world’s oldest prime minister stood for election again last weekend at the tender age of 97 – arguing quite legitimately that he was fully fit for high office on the basis that he was ‘still standing and talking’.

Mahathir Mohamad was already a Guinness World Record holder for being the world’s oldest current prime minister since he became premier of Malaysia for a second time in 2018.

Proving that age is no impediment to ambition, he put himself forward again last weekend – only this time he fulfilled that age-old observation of Enoch Powell, that most unctuous of Tories from times past, who once said that all political lives end in failure…even if it’s a relative thing and you could hardly be said to have been cut down early, at the age of 97.

Adding insult to injury, not alone did he finish fourth of five candidates in Langkawi, a resort island in Malaysia’s northwest, which he had won with a large majority in the previous poll in 2018 – he also lost his deposit.

It wasn’t even an ageist thing; his entire party failed to win a single seat.

And for comfort in his hour of need, he can still look to Laos where the Prime Minister Khamtai Siphandone is still going strong at just short of 99 – although the fact that he is the chairman of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party means you don’t have to actually come up with an election manifesto because, more specifically, you don’t have to stand for election.

But if you do – and accepting Mahathir Mohamad’s weekend disappointment – going before the electorate on a platform of boasting the ability to walk and talk is at least an honest one.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Getting locked away from all the rest can be no bad thing

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Dave O'Connell
Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

We all got used to a level of confinement during Covid, and if we were honest, occasionally, it was as much of a blessing than a curse; nobody calling unexpectedly to bother you, no journeys you’d prefer to avoid – even if ultimately we were happy to emerge from our pandemic hibernation.

But imagine if you were trapped for days in a pub during a storm – or in Disneyland during a snap lockdown.

Because for the very lucky few, that happened too.

Visitors to Shanghai’s Disney Resort recently found themselves barred from leaving until they produced a negative Covid test after a snap lockdown.

And we can all remember last November with envy, when customers who went to see an Oasis tribute band called Noasis found themselves trapped for days in a pub in the Yorkshire Dales as a result of heavy snowfall during Storm Arwen.

In both cases, quite honestly, it must have been like a dream come true.

The Disney Resort shut its doors all of a sudden after ten cases of coronavirus were discovered in Shanghai itself, with all visitors locked in the theme park until they were given the all-clear.

And while you’d think the reaction would be to kick back and literally enjoy the ride, online videos showed many of the visitors rushing to the gate trying to avoid being stuck in the park.

Perhaps the Chinese have had enough of snap lockdowns and feared they’d literally be on the swings and roundabouts for days on end – because a day earlier, workers at Foxconn, the biggest iPhone maker in Zhengzhou city, were videoed climbing over fences to avoid a similar snap lockdown.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

 

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Connacht Tribune

Accent survey shows Brits still love the oul’ Blarney

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Dave O'Connell
Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Those of a certain vintage here will remember the phenomenon of the Dagenham Yank – a fella who left Ireland to work, in this case at the Ford plant in Dagenham, and on his first visit home six months later, he would be chirruping like a native Cockney.

It was often the same process for those who moved to the land of actual Yanks, coming back after a short spell away talking like a native New Yorker.

Footballers who moved to play in the English League had their own hybrid accent – a sort of mix of Estuary English with whatever remained of their native Cork or Dublin. Think Dave O’Leary or Ronnie Whelan for reference points.

And yet they need never have worried a jot, because it turns out that there are few accents the Brits love more than what they diplomatically call the accent of ‘southern Ireland’.

Research, published by the Sutton Trust education charity had a serious point to make in that it established what it called an ‘accent bias’ against people from the North of England, which was proving a barrier to social mobility.

But part of Speaking Up: Accents and Social Mobility also ranks different accents in order of prestige – and we’re right up there towards the top.

It found that French-accented English, Scottish, American and southern Irish accents ranked highly in terms of prestige.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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