Sunday, June 23, 2013

Do you remember Froggy?

I am now 50 years out of Coláiste Mhuire this year. At a commemorative lunch the other day, one of my classmates asked "Do you remember Froggy?"

Do I remember Froggy? Of course I do. He was my first French teacher, and a very good one. Not exactly a compliment to a militant Fleming, but there you are. You can't have it all.

I did a post on this blog in his defence this month 6 years ago. I was incensed at the time at how Cathal O'Shannon (now RIP, but a journalist whom I once admired) and Senan Moloney (who had an agreement with Froggy in 1987, which he presumably considered expired on Froggy's death, heedless of the man's reputation, or the feelings or economic fortunes of his widow) both went for the man in an RTÉ series on Hidden Nazis.

Fortunately, his widow, who was made of stern stuff, took the matter to court and secured limited implementation of the 1987 agreement. Meanwhile, RTÉ cut from the transmitted programme a reconstruction of a Nazi interrogation in which Folens was portrayed in the part of interpreter.

If you are curious you can read my original post, but for now I just want to recall him as a teacher.

He taught French by the direct method (mainly). This may have been because he was in an Irish language school and didn't have much, if any, Irish. I suspect he would have used this method even in an English speaking school.

He operated an incentive system. Laxity or indiscipline in class earned you an X. Three Xs and you were sent down to the Head. An exceptionally good performance in class earned you a circle. This allowed you to skip homework on a night of your choice.

There was a period of weeks when less than half the class turned up in school. I think there was some flu epidemic or suchlike sweeping the land at the time. Folens put the curriculum on pause and regaled us with stories, tonguetwisters and songs, all in French. I thought this very enlightened at the time. Those who were absent through no fault of their own did not miss out on the course and those of us who were lucky enough to turn up got a bonus. Il était un petit navire. Le riz tenta le rat, le rat tenté tâta le riz tentant.

As I mentioned in the earlier post, his "cog notes" could be seen as first class, depending on your view of the objectives of the education system. I certainly found them great. They were Roneod and were the germ that subsequently grew into a first class publishing company. They were followed by modest volumes on the newer subjects, like civics, for which no textbooks were available, and, eventually, by the full range of high quality textbooks.

Anyway, I thought he deserved a mention, more than 50 years on.


Anonymous said...

Dia leat, a Sheáin! Ní cuimhin liom na hXanna agus na hOanna ach is cuimhin liom na téacsleabhair neaghnáthacha a bhí againn. N’fheadar cad é scéal na leabhra san?
Cormac [Ó Gráda]

Anonymous said...

Is cuimhin liomsa go maith Froggy. Cheapas fhein gurbh an-mhuinteoir e. Bhi spioraid iontach ag baint leis; an-chinnte i gconai go raibh an ceart aige, ach e sasta (uaireannta) eisteacht le hargointi on dtaobh eile. Ni raibh aon ghra aige don Fhrainc, rud nach ait do dhuine ona dhuthaigh.

Agus bhi na leabhra beaga Fraincise an-shontasach; fior-sceal eigin mar bhunus ar gach leathanach ionta.

Ni cuimhin liomsa ach oriead na hXanna and na hOanna, ach ni hiad san amhain ata dearmhadta agam!

Colm (O'Muircheartaigh)

Póló said...

Chonac anois díreach go bhfuair bean Froggy, Juliette, bás in aois 90, in Eanáir na bliana seo.

Bean dílis agus cróga.


Póló said...

This is some of the stuff provoked by the irresponsible and vindictive actions of O'Shannon/Moloney.

Póló said...

I have left a comment on the Irish Times condolence page.

Póló said...

I was intrigued by the formatting of the condolence notice here:

Mevrouw Juliette FOLENS - DEVOS
weduwe van de Heer Bert Folens († 2003)
Geboren op 2 augustus 1923 te Ganshoren, is overleden in Dublin (Ierland) op 30 januari 2013.
Dit melden U diepbedroefd haar kinderen en kleinkinderen:
Brian en Hilde O'Sullivan - Folens
Conor, Stephen en Maeve
Dirk en Brona Folens - Gavin,
Emmet, Mark, Cameron en Marie-Elena.
John en Leentje Rahill - Folens,
Elske, Donnacha, Juliette, Felicienne, Lydia en Faolain.
De Families Folens en Devos,
haar zuster Felicienne (†) en haar broers Louis en Albert Devos.

Instead of just listing all the grandchildren sequentially, they are listed under their parents and the surnames of spouses are included where relevant.

This enabled me to construct a family tree and follow up some of the names. For example, Elske is/was an actor with significant performances under her belt (at least up to 2004 when the Frontline Agency she was with changed their web address). She seems to have become chief bottle washer in Trash Books in 2008, and has contributed short stories to the Dublin Review in the last two years.

Maybe our crowd could adopt this very efficient and informative format in the future.