Math Professor Warned about Odd Summations

Angry parents alert an Education Board after Cookstown math professor of 21 years uses gruesome examples in class.

Having successfully taught over 1,000 students in O Level, General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) Math and Additional Math, Barney McGrath defended his approach.


One example that caught the attention of parents was, “If you beat the head clean off 6 Derry men and kicked the tripe out of a 4 Armagh men, how many men have you hammered?”

Another puzzle was, “You make 16 bottles of illegal alcohol but the cops arrive and confiscate them all. However, during a fake roadblock you set up and the ensuing bloody shoot-out involving you and the police, you manage to retrieve a quarter of your potion. How many bottles have you now?”

One parent contacted the Education Board with the following statement after a long night with her son: “Our wee Eoin was having nightmares and wetting the bed. We couldn’t put our finger on what was causing it until he started calling out things like ‘the square root’ and random numbers during one of his episodes. It appears Mr. McGrath was terrifying the youngsters with his horrific sums. The man’s a head case.”

Professor McGrath of 49 years admits that his style might be considered odd by today’s standards but underscored that he sure has the attention of his pupils. He remarked, “People need to loosen up a bit. Math is math no matter how you dress it up. My classes are memorable. For example, today I brought in 16 of my wife’s bras and asked the lads to hold up three quarters of them. They’ll never forget that sum.”

St. Bruce’s Secondary School suspended McGrath after sending students home with an assignment that included the following: “During an important match between Ardboe and Moortown, 14 innocent Ardboe players received limb fractures, 4 Moortown players pretended to have broken noses and 3 of the officials were slashed by knife-wielding Moortown women. How many people went home unhappy?”

One thing is for sure – McGrath’s style captivates the attention of his students, helping them quickly learn math. The question is whether the parents, administration and Board are just as ready.


By Hannah Jones

Hannah is a Manchester based writer who has spent many years studying and working in the field of journalism and psychology. Hannah enjoys swimming, meditation and dog walking. Her favourite quote is, 'If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you.'