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Bristol poet Lawrence Hoo speaks passionately about his CARGO Classroom project

"This is the best way forward rather than trying to fix broken adults"

Chaz Golding & Lawrence HooC0 - Founders of The Cargo Classroom Project

As soon as he started speaking, I immediately sensed the power of his influence.

It felt as though I was speaking with someone who had the energy of Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Martin Luther King and Kunta Kinte all rolled into one.

The Bristol poet, along with Charles Golding, is also a co-founder of CARGO Classroom – an online resource for schools and the broader public.

Their programme aims to address the imbalance of perspectives in the curriculum and provide multimedia learning tools for Key Stage 3 history lessons, including lesson plans, poetry, films and illustrations.

They have been collaborating since 2007 and set up the independent creative company CARGO in 2019, dedicated to developing a global understanding of African and African diaspora history and the contributions made by people of African and African diaspora descent.

One of the turning points that inspired Lawrence to develop CARGO (Charting African Resilience Generating Opportunities) was during his younger years, when he first noticed the lack of diverse educational opportunities.

He recalls: “When I was growing up, I was being taught the biased education, which showed very little representation of people that looked like me or their achievements and contributions to the world we live in.”

Out of nowhere and as natural as ever, Lawrence starts to recite a poem he wrote back in 2006, after being asked what his one wish would be if he could have one granted.

It’s easy to understand his passion and energy once you meet Lawrence Hoo and look at his catalogue of work, which has been exhibited across Bristol.

He went home, had a think about the question, and wrote the poem ‘I wish’, published in his book Hoostory in 2011.

The introduction of the powerful poem reads:

“I wish as a boy growing up more of my history was shown

There was so much missing that could have helped me before I was grown

The history I was taught helped fill me with anger and pain

Because it taught me my ancestors were slaves with no name.”

One of the key steps for CARGO Classroom is to broaden its reach by adding resources for key stages 1, 2 and 4 to cover children of all ages.

Lawrence explains: “If we have the ability to let the youngest as possible see what their potential is, I think this is the best way forward rather than trying to fix broken adults.

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Enter Into the World CARGO and Lawrence Hoo

“We need to give the right tools and skills to the children so that they know what their ancestors contributed and the freedoms they fought for.

“This way they can go forward believing that they can contribute to society and achieve as much as anybody else.”

CARGO Classroom’s current programme of work is focusing on free history education resources and 15 lesson plans, which will be available through the project’s website.

CARGO runs in partnership with the National Education Union, whose 450,000 members are being advised to use its classroom resources, University of Bristol and EDJam, a network of researchers and educators.

A new selection of free online history lessons has been released, featuring the incredible stories of Imhotep and Queen Nzinga among others.

From writing the poem I Wish to developing a global digital classroom, Lawrence’s work demonstrates the power of education and visualisation – you must believe it to achieve it.

I WISH

Poem by Lawrence Hoo

Cargo Classroom has partnered with the National Education Union to make the classes accessible to students across the country.Credit: Cargo Classroom

Festival of the Future

Independence Day

Poem by Lawrence Hoo

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