To round…or not to round?

Here are some practical tips on how to know when (as well as how) and when not to round off:

  • Check the instruction page (if you are writing a test), it will tell how you need to round of for the question paper as a whole. It will most likely say something like, “Round off to two decimal places, unless otherwise stated” or “Round off your answers appropriately to the given context, unless otherwise stated”.
  • “Unless otherwise stated” means that you must still check each question as a specific question may want you to round off to one decimal place, for example.
  • “According to the context” means that you need to think about how you need to round off your answer according to the specific question you are answering.

Let’s look at a few examples to illustrate what I have just said:

Example 1: You have been asked to share R200 between 3 people. So your calculation would be 200/3 = 66,66666666666…. Your answer is in rands so you know to round off to two decimal places (because money has two decimal places). Therefore, your answer would be R66,67.

Example 2: You have been asked to calculate the speed of a bicycle that travelled 10km in 3 hours. But at the end of the question it specifically said “correct your answer to one decimal place”. So your calculation would be 10/3 = 3,333333333……  Therefore your answer would be 3,3km/hr. Remember that you would round off to two decimal places if the question hadn’t specifically asked for you to round off to one decimal place.

Example 3: You have been asked to calculate how many 30cm rulers could be placed horizontally along a table that had a length of 145cm. Your calculation would be 145/30 = 4,833333333…. Remember that this is the number of rulers so you must round off to a whole number (as you can’t have a piece of a ruler placed on the table). According to the rules of rounding off, your answer would become 5 rulers. However, 5 rulers would not fit along the length (5 x 30cm = 150cm and the table is only 145cm in length). Therefore, you would “round down” and your answer would be 4 rulers.


Changing to Maths Lit

“Ma’am I have dropped to Maths Lit and I am in your class now.”

These are the words I hear in my classroom from time to time, usually at the beginning of a new term after learners receive their report marks.

I always say to them “Yes, you have changed to Maths Lit.”

Changing to Maths Lit is not something that learners need to be ashamed of. If a learner is not going to choose a career that  requires Maths Core, then it is not necessary for all the added pressure and for them to do work that will be irrelevant in their chosen career.

On the other hand, by doing Maths Lit, they will acquire useful life skills that they are more likely to use in adulthood. I have heard so many of my friends and family say they haven’t used most of the Maths they learned at school – they should have changed to Maths Lit (although it wasn’t around that long ago 😉 )

Maths Lit is a relatively new subject and it has been chosen by minority of learners, but I have a feeling this is going to change!


Why Individual Private Tuition?


During a lesson, learners are distracted by so many internal and external stimuli. Many learners are struggling with their own internal problems and then there are all types of noises inside and outside the classroom, like the clicking of a pen or birds chirping outside. Not to mention the distractions from disruptive learners in the classroom, a major challenge for teachers.

Although it is a teacher’s responsibility to maintain classroom discipline, it is not always possible to have a completely silent classroom and sometimes the message can get ‘lost’ from the teacher to the learner.

In my experience as a teacher, I have seen many learners struggled to grasp concepts that are taught to them in class. I don’t believe it is because they are not intellectually capable of grasping these concepts, but that they require a more focused and individually tailored environment in which they are able to receive the information directly and free from distractions.

This is why individual private tuition can be so beneficial as the learner is able to receive the information and skills that may have been, either partially or completely, missed during class.