It’s difficult to pay attention in class when successful people in textbooks don’t look like you and unsuccessful ones do. Chaz and Lawrence are on a mission to change that.
Bristol poet Lawrence Hoo struggled at secondary school. He was thrown out of six and remembers looking in the pages of textbooks and thinking that out of everyone who achieved things, who were ‘great’, no one looked like him. They were all white.
Now, with children of his own, he’s teamed up with visual artist Chaz Golding to address this lack of representation in schools’ curriculums. They hope these will counter the skewed versions of Black history, which they see as being responsible for reproducing inequalities in society.
We’re given rare access to the recording studios of one of Bristol’s most iconic bands, Massive Attack, who are long-time supporters of Lawrence and Chaz, to see them record some of the material for their lessons. We follow them as they host a training day for secondary school teachers in a disused warehouse on the outskirts of Bristol. It’s all intended to take them out of their comfort zone and put them in a place that will make them sit up and listen.
They’re taught about Nanny of the Maroons, Queen Nzinga and the Haitian revolution, among a plethora of other historical events and people that are not taught in mainstream schools. We then follow teachers who take what they’ve learnt back to their own classrooms. What will their pupils think about the lessons? Will they engage with the material?