The debate over the best method for the delivery of math instruction is not likely to be resolved any time soon. I’m not sure we should ever attempt to declare a winner. By the time we all agree upon the best practice the state of education will have changed again and we will have to re-think our approach. There are benefits to the process however and it is important to work toward improving the system.
As a high school math teacher who works predominately with ESL students my focus is on trying to convince my students that their education has value. For many of my students the cultural divide poses a significant barrier to embracing the ideals of public education. It is far more important for these students to find a compassionate and encouraging environment than to be overly concerned with their performance on standardized tests.
That being said I firmly believe that good teachers know their students. They mold their instruction to meet their student’s needs. If something is not working they change their approach. Education is not a static enterprise. Teachers for the most part want their students to learn and they are willing to do whatever is necessary to accomplish that goal. It is the function of professional development to keep teachers abreast of the latest information that is emerging from educational research. Teachers will take what they can use from the current research and discard what they can’t use. There is no perfect method nor is there a perfect teacher. We are all works in progress.