How I became a Guerilla Teacher

3 min readMar 4, 2015

Once upon a time there was an enthusiastic teacher who strongly believed she could make a difference. She dreamt of a society where all learners felt competent and thus happy. She was very much influenced by this professor Engels (what’s in a name, he) who defined an excellent teacher as someone who made sure all his pupils succeeded. “You inspire, you facilitate, you explain, again and again” he would say,” until your pupils feel it is easy and they are eager to learn the next step!” This made sense to this enthusiastic teacher.

Unfortunately she would soon be confronted with three dominant narratives in the educational community which surprised her. The first narrative equals intelligent students with those who are good at mathematics and the second defines the best teacher as someone who flunks out the most students. But it was the third dominant narrative that baffled her most. There she was with these fantastic lovely diverse people which are also known as students and there was the way she had to uniform them, also known as teaching.

She was taught to teach meaning transferring knowledge. But there was also this tiny thing she did. From the very beginning in her teaching career she was fascinated by her students’ stories and that is why she started to understand education hurts a lot of people.

This enthusiastic teacher felt very unhappy about this and she walked into the woods for many,many hours. She walked both in cities and mountains. But her students’ unhappiness wouldn’t go away.
Now this unhappy teacher didn’t perceive herself as extremely courageous. So she started thinking about leaving the teacher community. She also accidentally talked about her unease.

One day another teacher got up and said he felt uncomfortable as well. They started talking and … before they knew they were surrounded by a whole community of teachers who equaled learning with feeling competent and teaching as making sure your pupils and students feel competent, giving them the tools to achieve whatever they dream off.

Now this enthusiastic teacher realised this was not a happy ending but a never-ending story. So she continued listening to her students and walking in the woods and talking to her colleagues. One day she was confronted with a group of incorrigibles: they were the victims of the first dominant educational narrative and had never been taught how to write and speak their language properly. Then they were sacrificed on the altar of the teacher’s harassed ego. So when she finally met them they were a bunch of bewildered and frightened students using guerrilla tactics to survive.
Admittedly she had to do a lot of walking before she gained membership to this Guerilla community. But once she got connected she discovered this fantastic world of creative, dedicated youngster embracing all possibilities the digital world offers. She was so enthusiastic that she asked these youngsters if they were willing to co-create a Guerilla literacy thus helping other unhappy students. Now they all took a long walk in the woods and decided to give it a try. And that’s how this enthusiastic teacher got the courage to become a Guerilla Teacher and happily kept walking in the woods forever.

Storyteller: Patricia Huion, e-du-novator @ UC Leuven-Limburg, project manager of GuLL

More info about GuLL:

Guerilla Literacy Learning is a project co-funded from Erasmus+ (Agreement no. 2014–1-BE02-KA200–000472)