Computer science lessons: the long way to compulsory computer science

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When school in North Rhine-Westphalia started again on August 18, 2021, a new subject was on the schedule for all fifth graders in the most populous federal state: computer science. The project started in 2017 with a pilot project, reports Klaus Killich. As head of department at the Düsseldorf district government, he is responsible for the technical supervision of the subjects of computer science and history, is generally responsible for the digitization of schools and is responsible for the introduction of the new subject. “The compulsory subject of computer science has been our concern for 30 years,” he reports. When the governing parties in North Rhine-Westphalia, the CDU and the FDP, laid down the goal of strengthening IT in their coalition agreement in 2017, the opportunity arose to implement this concern.

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Killich is a specialist teacher for computer science, history and sports. Before moving to the district government, he worked as a teacher for 30 years and headed a grammar school in Neuss for 10 years. “I know pretty well what it means to teach computer science,” he says of himself.

The “Computer Science Model Project” ran from 2017 to 2020 at around 80 high schools in the districts of Düsseldorf and Cologne. One week of computer science was held in grades 5 and 6 of the participating schools. The model project went well: In January 2020, he and his team were commissioned to write a core curriculum for the subject of computer science, reports Killich. “That was a big challenge! We didn’t have a lot of time and no template. In other federal states the subject is called computer science, but is usually 50 percent media education.”

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