Interview: Andreas Westberg

Andreas graduated from Umeå University in 2003 with a teacher’s degree, and began a career as a secondary education teacher in Skellefteå. In 2012, he returned to university to obtain a Master of Arts in History. He began his PhD studies with a licentiate degree in 2014. He joined the graduate school in 2020, with Anna Larsson as his primary and Maria Rönnlund as his assisting supervisors.

Interviewer: What is the topic of your research?
My topic is called, “Dreams of a Better Schooling: Connections between Material Demands and Teaching Ideals – Swedish compulsory schools from late 19th century-present.” It focusses on a sample of Swedish schools from the 1920s-present and how they interact with school equipment. It asks the question, “How come aiming for making schools better comes through investing in new materials, be it new technology/equipment, buildings, etc.? To what extent does material improvements have practical effects on education?” Initially though, my proposal was to focus on a particular school from its founding in the 1920s until its closing in the 2010s, so I broadened my data set since my first proposal.

Interviewer: So, your topic has changed since you started? What did your supervisors make of the change?
My supervisors worked with me to find a change to the topic which would allow me to maintain the core concept but find a more feasible scope. It seemed more practical to expand the scope beyond a single school.

Interviewer: Aside from the research, what do you do as a member of the International Graduate School?
I am presently contributing to the anthology written collaboratively with the other PhD candidates. Although I have not started submitting articles yet, I have plans to start submitting articles to the Nordic Journal of Educational History. Additionally, I have been participating in various conferences: the online conference ISCHE 42 in 2021, the Nordic Educational History Conference in May 2022, and this fall, I will participate at the ISCHE conference in Milan.

Interviewer: Sounds like a lot! Even so, have you participated in any other related activities?
I am an upper-secondary teacher at a school in Skellefteå and have been teaching there since 2003. Actually, my current position can perhaps more accurately be referred to as a coordinator? I organise the visits to the school and in communication about the curriculum. For a time, I was in local politics in Skellefteå as well! In addition to my work in education, I write chronicles in the local newspaper every couple of weeks with subjects pertaining to history and education. As a PhD candidate at Umeå, I supervise the theses, exams, and practicum visits of bachelor students.

Interview by Brandon Graham, MA, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen.

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