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Math, German, IT - Part 2/2

29th August 2023

Coding at the age of 11? No problem - at least at Hacker School. An interview.

Gaming. Chatting. Tweeting & Co. This is the everyday life of many children and young people. Most of them only enjoy games, fun and entertainment. They are unaware of the potential risks and dangers. And how could they? Because the school subject "digital literacy" is not on German curricula, although digital knowledge is basic knowledge - without age limit. After all, digital literacy is a crucial skill for the working and living environments of today and tomorrow.

Yet it could be so easy to impart IT knowledge and skills to even the youngest children. After all, digitization offers numerous opportunities for learning through play. The Hacker School in Hamburg, for example, shows how young people and children can learn programming. However, the Hacker School is not a normal school, but a non-profit organization with a mission to get young people excited about IT. For example, they organize recreational courses with real IT professionals. And with success. Because here, the children and young people even come to learn voluntarily. They communicate via pretty much all digital channels and, of course, on site. That made us curious. We interviewed Dr. Julia Freudenberg, the founder of the Hacker School.

Julia, when does digital skill education ideally begin - and when does it end?

Julia: Today's children and young people are already growing up as digital natives. Smartphones, tablets and the like are practically in their cradle. That's why media education should start as early as possible. It's best to start in kindergarten to sensitize children to the critical view of digital content. Technology and coding are then the next step. 
We start in Hacker School from the age of 11. This is because by the time children start 5th grade, they can think more abstractly, concentrate longer, and focus more deliberately. Super important for us is the fun factor. We want IT learning to be a sense of achievement for the kids.

So it's best to start very early, but slowly and never stop! Because everyone needs basic IT knowledge and skills, no matter what age!

With which special offers do you refute the typical IT clichés?

Julia: Unfortunately, it's a very persistent rumor that only nerdy math geeks code. And it's completely false. Just like the rumor that IT is not for women. There's a lot of laughter, interaction and almost playful learning going on here. The young people - and the girls, too, of course - discover that coding is super communicative and creative. They work together in teams and do so in cool locations of IT companies or online in a colorful community.
Another IT stereotype is that you have to be super good at math. Girls in particular often think IT is as complicated as rocket science. But that's not true. For us, IT is more like playing together or - as I like to say - like "doing awesome shit together."

Women in particular are lacking in the IT industry. With the Girls Hacker School, you've launched a format that is specifically aimed at females between the ages of 11 and 99. What's behind it?

Julia: We want more women in the IT world. If we want gender-appropriate algorithms in the future, then we have to do something about it. After all, they don't program themselves. That's why we launched the Girls Hacker School. Here we inspire young girls, but also working women, mothers or pensioners, by showing them what a creative, colourful world with great opportunities IT can be for them. In addition, we also want to break down inhibitions in general. Programming is not rocket science! Moreover, no one is too old to learn it. That's why the age limit in our girls' courses is open.

IT is not yet part of the curriculum in German schools.
How can dedicated teachers and school classes still work with you?

Julia: Simply contact us! There are two different formats on our website: Our Yourschool PLUS format currently only takes place in Hamburg. Here we offer on-site programming courses at schools in socio-economically challenging environments. With the
Yourschool format, we come online to every school class across Germany. Our team, the Inspirers, program a small project with the students in one morning, strengthening their skills and then give a short IT career orientation. The feedback is great! The kids are thrilled - and the teachers are grateful for the support. A win-win for everyone - with lots of fun and even more laughter.

With the Hacker School in Hamburg, we are united in our mission: to get people - and especially women - excited about IT. It's clear that this won't happen overnight. Just as it is clear that this requires special formats that are adapted to the respective lifestyles and working environments. What better way to do that than with a part-time course - like our Data Part-Time Bootcamp? Part-time. Only in the morning. Remotely. And still with all the important IT basics to learn what's needed in modern businesses. Identify business issues. Solve them with data. Understand risks and assess expectations for data modeling. Dare. Stop taking warm showers and jump in the deep end with the other new fish!
> Sign up for the next Data Part-Time Bootcamp or become a professional in UX/ UI Experience!

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