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The Botetano arithmetic method: introduction and early evidence


In Peru, national assessments repeatedly rank Indigenous mathematics students as the lowest performing across the entirety of Latin America and South America. Whereas lack of financial resources often predicts low measures, the history of educational practice teaches us that students’ poverty need not predict their educational outcomes–creative instructional approaches may turn the tables. Here we report on an innovative, body-based arithmetic technique, the Botetano Method, that has been enabling poverty rural children from remote mountainous regions of Peru to match and even greatly surpass their urban peers on comparable test items. The article explains the method's guiding humanistic and cognitive principles and then reports on findings from explorative action research that implemented and evaluated the method. Using observational methodologies, we argue that the students developed in their conceptual understanding of the content as well as in their attraction to the discipline, their professional identity, their personal pride in their achievement, and their general epistemic capacity for concentration and self-regulation. Throughout, we emphasize the methodological limitations of this grassroots proof-of-concept action research, which threaten the validity of the assertions. We speculate on early extensions of the method to literacy studies.

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