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In the educational institution school , subject is the expression for the thematic structure of what is understood under education . A subject , officially a subject in Austria , is thus an articulation element of the curriculum (subject canon ) , which is determined by the responsibility of the respective educational policy , taking into account the traditions and current discussions. The timetable of a school type dictates what proportion of the budget for teaching number of hours per week account for the individual subjects, the timetable when each class gets taught what subject.

Educational organization

In the educational organization, the following refer to the lesson tables for the various types of school:

  1. the composition of the teaching staff according to different subjects;
  2. the specialization of teacher education and training;
  3. equipping schools with specialist rooms, collections, specialist literature and other media;
  4. Production and distribution of teaching and work materials for students and teachers on the part of the school book publishers;
  5. the eligibility-relevant documentation of student performance in school reports and their cross-regional comparability;
  6. the legitimation of the current timetable of a school class / level.

The school subjects thus form the content structure of the entire school education system . A minimum degree of stability of the subject boundaries is a condition of clear abundance and diversity of the educational offer and the learning requirements of the schools of a region, an age and the school types and levels that are subject to compulsory schooling .

Conversely, subject boundaries can be broken down within the framework of subject-related lessons , learning days or project days in order to develop complex lesson content or to acquire non-subject-specific skills .

Subjects in Germany

In Germany, the term "subject" includes:

  • Subjects in the real sense (German, English, history, mathematics and so on, see below).
  • Professional fields (electrical engineering, social education, economics, etc.).
  • Special educational subjects or remedial instruction (special focus on vision, special focus on hearing, language promotion, etc.).

Formal subdivision of the subjects

In Germany, a distinction is made between compulsory and elective subjects, as well as major and minor subjects:

  • A compulsory subject is a subject that is mandatory in the curriculum of a certain type of school. In German-speaking countries, for example, in addition to the main subjects, basic geography or sports are compulsory for almost all types of schools.
  • In addition, there are elective subjects that - with the exception of the compulsory elective subjects - can be added voluntarily to the student's timetable and are not decisive for the promotion . The elective subjects can be chosen freely at the beginning, but are then regular compulsory subjects. They typically represent the special focus of a school (for example, the student can choose between English or French as the first foreign language, but then stay with them until graduation, or between biology or physics / chemistry as a scientific focus).
  • Major subjects or main subjects or long-term subjects are subjects that are seen as more important than the other subjects (minor subjects) and therefore have more teaching hours (3–6 hours per week) available. The typical main subjects are German, mathematics and the first foreign language in general education, in vocational schools often the core content of the job description.
  • In addition to major subjects, in some German federal states all subjects are marked as core subjects in which schoolwork or written "major performance certificates" are required by the students. These core subjects may then also have greater weight when deciding whether permission to advance to the next higher grade can be granted. Depending on the school profile, other subjects can be major subjects, e.g. B. scientific and technical subjects, other foreign languages, economics or arts subjects.
  • Minor subjects or short-term subjects have fewer hours of instruction (1–3 h), but in terms of the influence of grades they are usually on an equal footing with so-called major subjects.

Subjects widely used in Germany

Which school subjects are offered in detail in Germany depends on the federal states and the individual schools.

The following subjects are standard in the lesson tables:

The following are other typical subjects for the respective school branch:

Special terms

Some subjects have special names in individual federal states. So the art classes in Baden-Württemberg and Hamburg are called BK and visual arts . Community studies in particular have very different names, e.g. B. in Hamburg " Politics, Society, Economy ", in Schleswig-Holstein economy / politics . Sometimes names change between school levels. So the community studies in Lower Saxony is called social studies up to the 10th grade , from the 11th grade community studies ( GK ).

Subject associations

Several subjects can be combined into so-called subject groups:


As a result of the 2004 reform of the education plan, subjects in Baden-Württemberg were grouped together:

  • The natural science subjects physics, chemistry and biology have become the new subject matter-nature-technology (MNT) in the secondary schools and the subject NWA (scientific work) in the secondary schools .
  • The humanities subjects history, geography and social studies form the secondary schools the new subject CI (Universal Time Company), to the secondary schools the subject EEC (geography, economics, civics), at the high school the subject GWG (geography, economics, civics )
  • The aesthetic subjects music, sports and art form the subject association Music-Sport-Design (MSG) at the secondary schools


In 2009, in the 5th and 6th grades, the natural science subjects were merged into the subject Human-Nature-Technology (MNT).


The following subjects were combined at the secondary schools :

  • The scientific subjects physics, chemistry and biology are combined in the subject PCB .
  • The subjects history, social studies, geography are combined in the subject GSE .
  • The subjects work, economics, technology are summarized in the subject AWT .

At grammar schools , the subject “Nature and Technology” serves as a cover for de facto separate subjects. Only one grade is given in the certificate and the curriculum shows a relatively high degree of reference to the other sub-subject, but these sub-subjects are definitely decoupled and taught by different teachers:

  • In the 5th grade, biology and “scientific work” are included (1.5 hours each according to the timetable).
  • In the 6th grade, biology and computer science are included (2 or 1 hour according to the timetable).
  • In the 7th grade, physics and computer science are included (2 or 1 hour according to the timetable).

Lower Saxony / Bremen

At the orientation levels , history and geography were combined as WUK ( world and environmental studies ). In addition, the ethics class there is called Values ​​and Standards, or WuN for short

Subjects in Austria

In Austria, between compulsory subjects , alternative compulsory subjects, elective subjects , optional subjects and optional exercises distinguished.

The following are usually listed as compulsory items :

In addition to the compulsory subjects in a more in-depth form, new subjects created by the school are usually also offered as compulsory elective subjects (e.g. "Behavioral Research", "Practice Firm", "Business Relations" etc.)

As Freifach a specialist is called, which is freely chosen and will be graded. Mostly this is the instrumental lessons as well as the attendance of religious lessons by students without religious denomination.

A non-binding exercise is a subject that is chosen voluntarily and is not graded, but assessed as "participated". These are mostly subjects such as stage play, dyslexia care, peer mediation, chess or additional sports programs such as basketball or football.

Situation outside of the German-speaking area

United States

In the core subjects of general education schools of the educational system of the United States the areas of English (take English language arts ), mathematics, science ( Science ) and Social Studies ( social studies , including history) a central place. In addition, a very wide range of subjects is taught - often as an optional subject - many of which are rarely used in German-speaking countries.


Which subjects are taught in American schools in the United States - as in the rest of the world - is a question of tradition , demand and the availability of resources. B. suitable teachers , rooms and teaching and learning materials . Examination standards, educational controlling and requirements of the tertiary education sector also orientate how the entire subject matter is bundled into subjects. Within these framework conditions, the school administrators then decide largely independently which subjects are offered at their school.

The presentations by marching bands , as they are common as a subject in many American schools, combine popular orchestral music and dance into an overall choreography.

A striking difference between the American and the German school system is the strong focus in the United States of artistic subjects on artistic practice . H. on teaching artistic technique. As a result, art classes are offered more than arts education , and instrumental , band or choir classes rather than music classes; General music lessons are only attended by those students who neither sing nor learn an instrument. Computer design, portfolio development, photography, photojournalism, yearbooks , creative writing , dance, singing and acting ( drama ) are independent subjects in American schools. From a European point of view, this practical orientation is to be understood against the background that the art education movement , which placed creativity and appreciation of the beautiful over craftsmanship and virtuosity , and strongly shaped European reform pedagogy at the beginning of the 20th century, had almost no effect in North America.

Gym in a large high school

A far greater role than in the German-speaking plays in the United States, where sports clubs rather the professional as the amateur sports devote even the school sports . In the disadvantaged socio-economic classes in particular, sport is often perceived as a possible path to social advancement. In families with little education (no higher than high school graduation) and children who dedicated themselves to a sport in high school, 44% of parents hope their child will become a professional athlete. In fact, young top athletes have applied for places at elite universities such as B. those of the Ivy League a competitive advantage. To meet this need, many financially well-funded middle schools and high schools not only run their own sports halls and multi-purpose sports fields , but also stadiums , tennis courts, swimming pools and special rooms such as equipment studios or for martial arts . These facilities are used for regular physical education, but also for extracurricular programs ( after school sports ); Credits ( credits ) can be purchased but only in regular exercise classes whose assignment is mandatory for all students.

A whole range of subjects is taught in the IT sector.

The use of computers is also promoted and taught to a much greater extent than in German-speaking countries at American general education schools . Teachers and students not only use computers and aids such as Google Classroom on a daily basis, from elementary school onwards, but schools also offer special subjects such as word processing, desktop publishing, computer graphics, web design or programming. In 2014, there were 3.9 million jobs in the United States in computing and information technology. (For comparison: 1.01 million IT specialists were employed in Germany in 2017.)

Three vintages of a high school yearbook

Another American traditional school subject is Yearbook ( "Yearbook"). Every year at the end of the school year, American schools publish an almanac that not only contains portrait photos of all students and teachers, but also an editorial section created by students in which events of the previous school year are documented in words and pictures. In the Yearbook , students acquire specialist knowledge in the areas of journalism, photography, desktop publishing and marketing ( acquisition of advertisers). The Yearbook is a competitive subject , and organizations like the National Scholastic Press Association award the country's best books with highly acclaimed prizes each year.

The natural sciences of physics, chemistry and biology in the USA - unlike in Germany - are often only taught for one year, but then with five hours per week and a strong focus on research in the laboratory. Many subjects that only play a minor role in the American canon of subjects are taught in middle school and high school for only one semester or trimester, so the total number of subjects that a student studies in the course of his school years may be much larger than that in Germany is the case.

Educational standards

High schools require their students to purchase credit points ( credits ) that can only be acquired in certain courses, thus ensuring that as important classified subjects or subject groups are actually studied.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative has been monitoring in 42 of the 50 states and in the District of Columbia since 2010 that uniform standards are adhered to in the subjects of English and mathematics. Other public initiatives for standardization exist in the individual states (e.g. the New York State Testing Program in New York ).

The most highly regarded high school degree in the United States is the International Baccalaureate (IB); this academically very demanding program requires a. requires that IB courses in English, math, science, social studies, performing or visual arts, and a foreign language be successfully completed. In the USA, standardization of high school qualifications only takes place at the state level (e.g. the Regents diploma in New York).

The SAT and ACT are the most important certificates of achievement that most American universities require from their applicants . Both tests focus on the English language proficiency and the scientific and mathematical thinking skills of the participants. The schools are adapting to these requirements and for these reasons also give high priority to the natural sciences as well as to English and mathematics.

Frequently offered subjects

The following subjects are always offered (bold type) or occasionally to often (normal type) in American schools:

Area Grundschule Middle School and Junior High School High school
English ( English Language Arts , ELA)
  • English
  • Reading ( Reading )
  • Free speech
  • Debating
  • English
  • World literature, classical literature, modern literature
  • British literature, American literature
  • Short story , Shakespeare
  • Movie
  • Essay ( composition ), creative writing , lyric ( poetry )
  • Grammar, vocabulary
  • Debating, free speech
  • English catch-up course ( Remedial English )
English as a second language ( English as a second language , ESL)
  • English as a second language
  • English as a second language
  • English as a second language
foreign language
  • foreign language
  • foreign language
  • foreign language
  • Foreign language conversation, literature, culture, history
  • mathematics
  • mathematics
  • geometry
  • Algebraic Propaedeutics ( Pre-Algebra ), Algebra
  • Mathematics for consumers ( Consumer Math )
  • Make-up course in mathematics ( Basic Math / Remedial Math / Fundamental Math )
  • mathematics
  • Pre-algebra, algebra
  • Geometry , trigonometry
  • Propaedeutics of infinitesimal calculus ( Precalculus ), infinitesimal calculus ( Calculus )
  • statistics
  • Business mathematics, accounting
  • Consumer Math, Personal Finance and Investment
  • Mathematics catch-up course
Natural sciences
  • Science (Science)
  • Natural sciences
  • Biosciences ( Life Science ), Geosciences ( Earth Science ), Physical Science (Physics, Chemistry, Astronomy)
Information technology
Health, nutrition
  • Health education
  • Health Education , Personal Health Care ( Healthful Living , Personal Health )
  • First aid
  • Healthy Eating ( Nutrition ), Nutritional Science
Practical life
  • Housekeeping ( Home Economics , "HomeEc")
  • Cooking ( Culinary Arts ), Housekeeping ( Home Management , Home Organization ), Financial Planning ( Financial Management )
  • Technical training ( Woodshop , Metal Shop ), automotive engineering ( Auto Mechanics )
  • Horticulture , garden maintenance
  • Career planning, everyday planning ( personal organization )
  • Social competence
  • Driving lessons
Social sciences, history
  • Social Studies ( social studies and history)
  • Social studies
  • World history, history, and government of the United States
  • geography
  • History of antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the modern age
  • World history, history of the USA
  • Current world events ( World Current Events, Global Issues )
  • geography
  • World religions
  • Citizenship Studies ( Government, Civics )
  • economy
  • Political science, social science, sociology, psychology, anthropology, genealogy
  • Philosophy, epistemology , logic, critical thinking, rhetoric
Visual arts
  • art
  • art
  • Art , general art classes ( Art Appreciation ), art history
  • Drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics, pottery
  • Computer design
  • Photography, video, film production
  • Computer aided design
Music and performing arts
  • General music lessons ( Music Appreciation )
  • Instrumental lessons, guitar group, band
  • Choir
  • play
  • Instrumental lessons
  • General music lessons, music history, music theory
  • Band, orchestra
  • Choir, singing lessons
  • Classical ( Classical Music Studies )
  • play
  • dance
Sport ( Physical Education , PhysEd)
  • Sports
  • Sports
  • Sports
Basic subjects, learning to learn
  • Learning to learn ( Study Skills )
  • Recherche ( Research Skills )
  • Study Hall
  • In the Middle School, enrichment is replaced by honors programs.
  • Study Hall
  • In high school, the honors programs are replaced by advanced placement programs and the international baccalaureate program.
  • SAT preparation
Special educational
  • Special educational classes ( Special Education Resource Program , Special Education Day Class )
  • Special Educational Sport ( Adaptive Physical Education )
  • Occupational therapy ( Occupational Therapy ), speech therapy
  • Special education lessons
  • Special educational sport
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Special education lessons
  • Special educational sport
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Useful life skills ( Life Skills )

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Teaching subject  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Notes and individual references

  1. ZB: Alexandra Kertz-Welzel : Every child for music. Music education and teaching in the USA . Blue Owl, Essen 2006, ISBN 3-89924-169-X .
  2. One in four parents has pro dreams for their child, survey says. July 9, 2015, accessed September 25, 2017 . Sports and Health in America. Retrieved September 25, 2017 .
  3. How important can athletics be as a hook for college admissions? Retrieved September 25, 2017 .
  4. ^ Computer and Information Technology Occupations. Retrieved September 26, 2017 .
  5. IT specialists. Retrieved August 11, 2020 .
  6. ^ Pacemaker Awards. Retrieved September 26, 2017 .
  7. ^ Common Core State Standards Initiative. Retrieved September 24, 2017 . Tamar Lewin: Many States Adopf National Standards for Their Schools. In: The New York Times. June 21, 2010. Retrieved September 24, 2017 .
  8. ^ Website of the Office of State Assessment in New York State. Retrieved September 24, 2017 .
  9. United States. In: Retrieved September 24, 2017 .
  10. Graduation Requirements. In: NYC Department of Education website. Retrieved September 24, 2017 .
  11. ^ School Subjects List. Retrieved September 24, 2017 .
  12. Elementary Speech Class. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on September 27, 2017 ; accessed on September 26, 2017 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  13. Writing lessons in the US begin with block letters; In some schools, handwriting is only taught to children interested in calligraphy .
  14. In some schools an independent subject.
  15. ^ Middle School Course Description Guide. Retrieved September 26, 2017 .
  16. ^ Speech Course Syllabus. Retrieved September 26, 2017 .
  17. Teaching Debate: Sequencing for a debate unit or class. Retrieved September 26, 2017 .
  18. Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL). Retrieved September 26, 2017 .
  19. The vast majority of American students study only one foreign language at a time during their school years. This is mostly Spanish , less often French , German or Latin .
  20. Only a quarter of primary schools offer foreign language teaching Students gain more foreign-language learning in schools. In: USA Today. July 22, 2017. Retrieved September 27, 2017 .
  21. ^ Middle School Pre-Algebra B. Retrieved September 26, 2017 .
  22. ^ MEGA Middle School Math: Money & Consumer Math. Retrieved September 26, 2017 .
  23. ^ Basic Math Concepts for Middle School. Retrieved September 26, 2017 .
  24. Business Technology. Retrieved September 27, 2017 .
  25. Powerful, Purposeful Pedagogy in Elementary School Social Studies. In: National Council for the Social Studies. Retrieved September 25, 2017 .
  26. ^ Theory of Knowledge 1. Retrieved September 28, 2017 .
  27. ^ Music Appreciation Class Lessons - Timbre, Ensembles, Genres. Retrieved September 27, 2017 .
  28. Free working hours; offers u. a. Opportunity to do homework already in school; an instructor provides supervision and can be consulted if necessary at Glenwood Academy's School Study Hall. Retrieved September 24, 2017 .
  29. ^ Forms of Gifted Education. Retrieved September 24, 2017 .
  30. The latter means that the students by the hour not included , but are schooled in small groups or individually.
  31. Both are carried out in schools in the USA during class time