This paper draws from a six-month study in a Yucatan Maya community in Mexico. The research explores the extent to which mathematics education capitalizes upon community approaches to problem solving. In this Maya village, math scores are low, and dropout rates are high. Still, local approaches to problem solving provide clues for teaching math, engineering, and maker skills in Mexico, the US, and other communities with little access to formal education. In our findings, we illustrate the tension between community and school mathematics knowledge; contribute to the expanding definition of what counts as legitimate mathematics knowledge, and illuminate two community approaches to problem solving involving autonomy and improvisational mindset.

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