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Alumni in Focus: André Hedlund

Press release issued: 16 June 2020

Alumni in Focus meets School of Education alumnus André Hedlund, to discuss the reasons why he chose the School of Education to continue his studies, his decision to pursue an MSc in Psychology in Education, and the impact achieving an MSc has had on his future studies and career path.

Name: André Hedlund

Course studied: MSc in Psychology in Education

Hello, would you mind telling me a little bit about yourself?

My name is André Hedlund and I’m 34 years old. I consider myself a very enthusiastic person who loves science, arts, and exploring the world. I am what Emily Wapnick classifies as a multipotentialite in her TED Talk. I have many interests and could see myself working in different areas as long as education is at the core. I love talking to people about relevant issues such as education, politics, science and I can be a little annoying and quite excited to teach people things I’m passionate about. Teaching and teacher training are two of my greatest passions.

I love traveling, discovering new places, and attending conferences. I’ve worked both as a teacher and a coordinator but it was in 2015 that I realized through National Geographic Learning that I loved training teachers. I write for a blog (edcrocks.com) about neuroscience, psychology, and education. I am the current president of an NGO called Partners of the Americas Goiás, whose purpose is to connect, serve, and change lives through local and global actions, and I want to change education in my country.

I live in the midwestern region of Brazil (in a very hot and dry city called Goiânia) with my wife Cris and our cat Blu. We miss our cat Caio very much (he passed away a few months ago) and we’re trying to keep sane during this pandemic and terrible political crisis in Brazil.

What made you want to study for an MSc?

I had been an English as Foreign Language teacher in Brazil for nearly 10 years before I realized I had a passion for teacher training. It was when I got the chance to go to the USA through a travel grant and work closely with teachers from different educational settings that I understood that my life’s purpose was to impact students through their teachers and ultimately through education.

I wanted to understand which teaching practices and pedagogies could help teachers and how policymakers could promote frameworks and create policy to improve students’ educational outcomes in my country. I was into neuroscience and how the human brain works when we acquire and learn language, new knowledge, and new skills.

I knew that, for my voice to be taken seriously, I would need the right qualifications and an MSc at the University of Bristol seemed the perfect fit for my ambitions and life goals. I also knew that my country was heading towards a difficult period with the election of a new government that promotes bigotry, alienation, and segregation. I wanted to be equipped to face the challenges in education when I came back.

Why did you choose the School of Education, University of Bristol, for your studies?

The funny thing about my choice to study at UoB is that I actually decided to study Psychology of Education rather than to focus on Educational Neuroscience. It all started when I applied to the worldwide famous Chevening Scholarships and, to my surprise, I was chosen in my very first attempt. I needed to be accepted in three courses of three different universities in the UK.

During my search for the perfect course, I stumbled across UoB’s Psychology of Education syllabus and faculty. Professor Paul Howard-Jones’ name, the Brain, Mind, and Education unit, and a focus on social psychology gave me the push I needed to make the decision. I love Howard-Jones’ work and I had been interested in the BME science for at least 2 years before my admission. In fact, I am a member of the BRAZ-TESOL Mind, Brain, and Education Special Interest Group and we promote workshops, write articles, deliver lectures on how we can ally scientifically-grounded evidence of how the brain learns with teaching. I can say without a doubt that UoB was the best choice I could’ve made.

 

How has completing your MSc helped with your career or further education?

I believe completing my MSc opened many doors. The fact that I was studying at an accredited university abroad allowed me to attend different English Language Teaching conferences as a speaker. I delivered sessions on MBE, psychology, and teaching practices in Spain, Montenegro, Romania, Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary before returning to my country.

I expanded my network and made important partnerships that will definitely add to my professional journey. A couple of months after my arrival in Brazil, I received a job opportunity that allows me to work closely with teachers as their mentors in the implementation of bilingual programs on national territory. My job at Spot Educação with Edify bilingual programs impacts thousands of students who learn English in Brazil and their teachers who get support and professional development.

I dream of making an even bigger impact by implementing a program based on the psychometric scale I developed in my dissertation to use MBE as the foundation of teacher training courses all over Brazil. Graduating from UoB with distinction gives me the confidence to further my education anywhere in the world and to partner with the right people to make real change in educational systems (in my country and abroad).

And finally, do you have any advice or tips for people who are thinking about undertaking a Masters, or continuing their education?

Bear in mind two things: 1) it will be one of the most challenging things you do in life; but 2) you will learn more than you can possibly imagine. That means a lot of sacrifices will be required. I had to move away from my wife, two cats, friends, and family for a year because I knew that my diploma would enable me to do the things that I dream of.I prepared myself for a long time, always accepting new and relevant challenges and studying a lot. My wife’s support was essential and I can’t thank her enough for believing in me.

During my time at UoB, I had to study like never before and spend hours in the library to complete my dissertation. My biggest challenge was to learn advanced statistics by myself and create a 32-item psychometric scale of teaching practices based on MBE principles. It was the most difficult academic endeavour of my life but the feeling of getting back my marks and very positive feedback was extremely rewarding. On the other hand, I met the most incredible people who gave me support and shared their life experiences with me. They helped me understand cultural diversity and the plurality of ideas in such a way that it made me a better human being.

If you have a vision, a mission on this planet, you need to empower yourself and make your voice heard. You need the right qualifications and connections to make real change in this world. That’s the power education can give you. Go for it, do what is necessary, seek out support, nurture a network of inspiring people, and leave your mark. Don’t forget to ask for help when you need it and to be dedicated.  

Thank you, André, and the SoE wishes you every success in your future career!

Further information

To find out more about studying at the School of Education, University of Bristol, visit our website: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/education/

For information on our postgraduate open days, go to the Univesity of Bristol postgraduate study: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/visits-open-days/

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