Should I study A + to learn hacking

The Hacker School: learn to program with professionals
It goes without saying that children and young people use digital media. In the Hacker School they learn what's behind the user interfaces: They use programming languages ​​and build their first apps and websites. We accompanied a course.
Jonas * should someone explain that to you: “Why do you call the main heading H1 and the sub-headings H2 and H3? Actually, the biggest headline has to have the highest number. It's clear. "No, html is not always logical. At least for the ten to twelve-year-old participants at the Hacker School, the common programming language for Internet pages keeps raising questions.

Luca *, Jonas, Mirco *, Friedrich *, Lorenz * and Hannah *, like all students in Germany, have not attended school at all or only for days. Instead, they spend a lot of time in front of the computer and doing schoolwork at home. Quite a lot of time in front of the screen, you might think. But the six students want to look behind the colorful facades of the Internet. They want to know how websites are structured. And questions are inevitable.

Elisabeth, Moritz and Robin ensure that these questions are answered. Although the three of them have only just finished school themselves, they are very familiar with computers. Moritz has even been running his own company for over a year, which offers individual software solutions for companies. As so-called inspirers, they volunteer to teach the six participants how html works. They work with the students on two afternoons and completely online via video conference. Corona also gives the Hacker School special formats.
A website is created line by line
It starts after a short introduction. The task: Build a website, for example about a person you know. With headings, paragraphs, pictures and maybe even videos. Everything is programmed line by line, always with the leading character . As usual with IT specialists, the students get to work in teams of two. Because when programming, exchanging information with one another is at least as important as communicating with the computer.
At the beginning of the online session, participants learn how to program the headline of a website.
The first steps are still difficult. But the three inspirers patiently explain over and over again which rules have to be observed when writing html commands. And indeed, at the end of the second afternoon, each participant can present a handsome website. To Albert Einstein, music stars, or well-known athletes.
Successful programming project for students
The Hacker School has existed since 2014. It is a successful project: three years ago, a good 200 students took part in the courses. In 2019 there were already over 5,000. The goal is to arouse enthusiasm for IT through playful learning, explains Benjamin Heberling from the Hacker School. “We don't have a fixed curriculum. The participants should learn how a computer works by trying them out on their own. How they communicate with him, how he implements their orders. "In other words, things that, according to him, occur too rarely, if at all, in computer science classes in schools.

The latest MINT young talent barometer shows that German schoolchildren have a lot of catching up to do in terms of IT skills. According to this, every third eighth grader now shows poor performance in dealing with computers. The digital natives therefore increasingly lack the knowledge of the technology behind the programs that they naturally use in everyday life.
Voluntary promotion of young talent
In the Hacker School courses, experienced inspirers guide the participants.
At the Hacker School, volunteer inspirers try to arouse interest in computers and IT. As a rule, they are between 30 and 50 years old and work as freelance IT consultants, university lecturers or in the IT departments of large companies. The courses were also held there before the corona pandemic. “We attach great importance to this. Because it's also about showing how and where programmers actually work, "says Benjamin Heberling. And something else is important to the creators of the Hacker School: bringing IT closer to those who do not trust themselves to program. That is why there are courses only for Girls or offers that are specifically aimed at children and young people whose parents cannot afford computers.
Previous knowledge is not necessary
Anyone can take part. Prior IT knowledge is not required for participation in the courses. “At the beginning we look to see who already has programming experience and then form appropriate small groups. It works very well, "says Benjamin Heberling. This can also be seen in the html course: Despite different previous knowledge, the six students work well together and are rightly proud of their results in the end.
One of six results after eight hours of hacking school: a website about the earth.
And what about the digitization of the Hacker School itself? Fully digital courses should remain the exception. Benjamin Heberling is certain of that. All courses are currently running via video conference. “And that works too. But digital encounters have limits and cannot develop the quality of social closeness that is best for sharing knowledge and learning. For me, our model lives from direct interaction. And offline it simply has a different quality than through the camera, "he says. Whether online or again in direct contact - Luca, Jonas, Mirco, Friedrich, Lorenz and Hannah definitely want to take a course at the Hacker School again And then build even more complex websites.

* All names of the participating students have been changed and their pictures in the video conference have been made unrecognizable.
© for all pictures: Hacker School
The idea of ​​the Hacker School is simple: skills are crucial nowadays in order to understand and help shape social, economic and political developments. But in computer science lessons, students often only learn how to make PowerPoint slides. The lessons do not broadly convey the content that young people need to find their way around in the digital world.

The Hacker School is not about training computer scientists, but rather To inspire children and young people and to get excited about IT. The hacker's school is inspired by experts in software development, computer game programming and robotics. People who in their job deal with the topic that they bring the young people closer to.

The Joachim Herz Foundation supports the Hacker School with the "Perlenfonds", its funding line for third-party projects.

To the Hacker School website