Brexit (according to Year Nine)

The Brexit vote has suddenly transformed by unruly Year Nine (Eighth Grade) class into ardent (and furious) politicos (main topic: how come they let people over sixty vote when it’s not going to be their problem cause they’re going to die soon?). Trying to ride the moment, and survive bottom set Year Nine last lesson on a warm Friday, I put on the live news so they could watch it while they, er, worked (read: doodled on their worksheets). They were rapt, and kept asking me to explain who the various MPs and experts were. It went a bit like this:
“Miss, who’s that guy who looks like a paedo?” goes Barney.
“He’s a very respected BBC journalist and he is most certainly not a–“
“Well, he works for the BBC and he looks well weird, so he probably is.”
“He looks awful because he’s been up all night reporting on this and he’s probably very tired. Did you know you could have woken up at any time last night and switched the news on and seen the latest results?”
That idea fascinated them all for a few minutes. Then Iain Duncan Smith appeared on screen and made the mistake of talking.
“Miss,” said Theo, usually one of the calmer and more reflective students in the room, “look how old he is. He probably doesn’t care that we’re not going to get jobs, because he’ll be retired by the time we finish school.”
“Or dead,” goes a hopeful voice from the corner (not mine, I hasten to add). “Unless he’s a vampire.”
“Or a zombie,” goes Bloodthirsty Jack from the corner, suddenly engaging in the lesson. “He looks like he could be a zombie.”
“And when he’s retired,” Theo continued, loftily ignoring the interruptions, “he’ll be all excited about going to Spain on his holidays, and then he’ll get there and everything will be massively more expensive and he’ll suddenly think, oh, no, this is my fault. I shouldn’t have voted against Spain.”
“Hah, serves him right,” puts in Ryan, my resident Artful Dodger. “It’s all bloody old people. I’m well pissed off with my nan–“
“Language and respect, Ryan!”
“Sorry, Miss, I’m well annoyed with my nan cause she said she was voting leave for me but she never bloody asked me if I wanted to leave, did she?”
The whole class let out a sigh of heartfelt sympathy, got bored with IDS, and scribbled on their worksheets (and each other) for a while. Barney, who is normally Mr Too Cool to School, attached himself to my desk and started grilling me on how referendums work and when we could have another one (mass outrage when I explained there wouldn’t be one about getting back into the EU for them to vote in), and why couldn’t sixteen year olds vote when it was their future, and how come Nigel Farage was showing off when it was almost a tie, and what would happen if everyone who voted Remain just went on strike and refused to work until the government changed their minds. I tried to answer all of those, whilst keeping an eye on the rest of them as they began to lose interest in everything and start to wind each other up by stabbing each other with felt tips (Friday afternoons with Year Nine are always fun).
 Then I realised that Ryan was staring at the screen, his eyes wide and an expression of incredulity stamped across his face.
“Miss,” he eventually breathed. “Who’s that posh twat?”
“Language, Ryan. That’s Boris Johnson.”
“Fucking hell. He needs a smack in the gob, doesn’t he? And a bloody haircut. Who does he think he is?”
Up pipes Theo. “He wants to be Prime Minster.”
“Well, that obviously ain’t going to happen, is it?”
Ryan stopped to draw breath and I seized the opportunity to do my speech on the next general election and why voting matters especially if you were going to turn eighteen before May 2020. Ryan listened to me with an increasingly sceptical expression. He waited patiently until I was done and then said, very kindly, “All due respect, Miss, but that voting thing probably won’t work. I’d rather smack him in the head.”
And from the back of the room, Bloodthirsty Jack lifted his head from the desk where he had been napping, opened his eyes, and said blearily, “With a referendum!”
Sadly the bell went then, so I had no chance to correct their misconceptions about democracy (next week).
Boris Johnson, ladies and gents: smack him in the head with a referendum.
Although Year Nine were the most vocal, all of the students I’ve seen today have been upset and frightened about their future. The school’s own mock referendum came in at 75% Remain, absolutely in line with young voters in the UK. Even the weakest and most confused SEN student I teach came rushing up to explain to me in broken sentences that Nigel Farage had lied about the NHS. The kids are okay. They just got outvoted.
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7 Responses to Brexit (according to Year Nine)

  1. Alicia says:

    I’m in the latter part of sixth form, and I’m so glad that it isn’t just myself and my peers that are furious that the older generation (who, let’s face it, are pretty decrepit and likely to die soon) have decided our future for us without actually consulting us! They have claimed that we don’t know any better and are misinformed, but I think siding with Nigel Farage, the BNP and Donald Trump clearly indicates the Leave party were made up of idiots and racists. I’m really upset that the majority of the population thought we didn’t have a say in our future, but it is amusing watching all the lies the Leave party cooked up being revealed.
    Your Year 9’s seem pretty clued up, and it will be interested to see if my generation (those under 18) will move to other countries when we are old enough, because if that happens I cannot wait to see how the government would entice migrants over to fill the skills gap.
    By the way, I am sorry for going on a rant, but I’m happy that it’s not just me feeling upset and betrayed by those ‘representing our generation and protecting our best interests’.

    • amyraenbow says:

      I’m sorry that your generation was let down. I’m going to say scared and gullible, rather than idiots and racists, but it isn’t fair, and I suspect the results would have been very different if sixteen and seventeen year olds had been allowed to vote, as they were in the Scottish referendum. I know it’s a small sop, but if nothing else, you will have a vote in the next general election, as will all your peers. I have no idea who will be running our political scene at that point, but every vote will still count, and there will be emboldened far-right parties on the rise who will need opposing.

  2. Eddy Lou Peterson says:

    I just finished reading and enjoying your book LODESTAR OF YS and was visiting your website. I enjoyed your book, and the pictures of your hikes, but I got such a kick out of your report of your students comments. I’m a retired elementary school librarian and I am still in shock that my countrymen elected Trump as our president. The upcoming years will be very frightening and frustrating as we try to maintain the policies that it has taken most of my lifetime to achieve!

    I got your book after reading the reviews of your writing in STEAMED UP. So I’m off to read EMYR’s SMILE and your contribution in STEAMED UP. Thank you for taking the time to write and edit your work.

    • amyraenbow says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed the book. Hope you like Emyr and Heilyn too!

      We live in terrifying times, but the one thing that gives me hope is how angry and appalled the kids are by what’s happening. It gives me hope.

  3. Just a fan with a different opinion says:

    I’m aware of the fact that I’m replying to a old post, but I think that if you didn’t want someone to reply to it, you would’ve deleted it by now.

    Now, I find some of the stuff you wrote interesting.
    First, the old people voting thing. People can only vote if they’re young and share the same opinion that you have?
    What you’re talking about is barring a generation that fought in WW2 fought for future generations because their idea of democracy isn’t the same as your idea of democracy. What you’re talking about is excluding a group of people from exercising their right as citizens.
    My generation is a generation of ungrateful brats that thinks they know better because they’re “educated”, while ignoring what the older generation did for us.

    Then, you go on to say that your students are frightened about their future. A bunch of kids living in a first world country are worried about their future while living under their parents’ roofs and having a comfortable life, while in African countries children die because their parents can’t afford food and medication, while you guys in the UK have a fucking public health service. While your students complain about the good life they have, in Palestina parents are throwing their kids against Israeli soldiers for propaganda (

    You’re relieved because of this generation, I’m worried about it. We’re talking about a generation that lives a sheltered life and can’t deal with frustration and rejection and attempts to shut down opinions that differs from theirs.

    Your 75% came from a group of people that have no life experience, went through no hardships and still has mom and dad paying for their bills.

    Also, you said that the fact that the kids are angry gives you hope. Being angry isn’t good. Four angry people tortured a disabled man in the US. Angry people rioted in the streets of the US because their candidate lost the election and they can’t respect the outcome of a democratic process, to the point of causing damage to someone from a group they claim to defend (
    Angry people didn’t want a gay man talking in a event at their university to the point they rioted and the man had to be evacuated from the place, just because said gay man is a conservative and his opinions don’t fall within their narrative.

    I’m disgusted by my generation and don’t have any hope for the future generations.

    I’d just like to add that I’m not racist, homophobic, fascist, nazist, islamophobic and sexist. I’m just someone who grew disgusted with what left wing parties did to my country and to other countries as well and the divisiveness they created amongst their own people.
    I’m also your fan and have read your books.

    • amyraenbow says:

      If you’ve actually read my books, you’ll know I’m a very angry liberal and shouldn’t be surprised that I’m expressing my sense of betrayal. If you’d actually read my post, instead of skimming it to find fuel for your outrage, you would feel asjamed rather than constructing straw man arguments and sneering at my students. I’m not going to bother refuting your points. I refer you to Google, where you can find countless intelligent, compassionate people who have done so already.

      Your generation are welcome to vote. Mine are equally free to criticise your voting choices. Just don’t expect us to appreciate it when you shit on our future.

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