This word, tossed around so often by so many teachers, in so many staff lounges, at so many educator meetings, makes me want to hurl. Yep, the f-word. That f-word, F for "functioning."
What did you think I was talking about?
I cringe every time I hear teachers talk about this "low functioning student," or that "high functioning sixth grader," like a car advertisement. Check out this high performance functioning vehicle, equipped with the latest GPS system, climate control, side airbags, and a whopping SIX cup holders! APR financing at 1.8%!
It's gotten to the point that the term holds no meaning for me anymore. Why do teachers like to generalize things so much? Is it because we summarize the information we teach a lot? Why can't we be more specific and say that so-and-so does not have basic math skills, or what's-that-name is more than ready to take on algebra?
But then, sometimes it's hard to find the exact words to describe a student. Sometimes, there are no words. And when another teacher or the principal, or whoever asks, "So Ms. Ng, how is this-and-that doing in your class?" I might resort to terms vaguely pedagogical in nature like "Oh, he's a high/low functioning student, but it's still too early to tell."