1898 and all that

All right, now we know. When Queen Victoria was in her dotage, 11-year-olds sat quietly at their desks, reciting their tables and dates. They were well-drilled and super-brainy. They knew Latin to the level of today's GSCE. They tackled fractions and pounds, shillings and pence with aplomb. They knew their place as well as their tables. But then they didn't have the noisesome interruption of mobile phones, computer games, pop music, blaring television and all the other distractions which our modern young have fallen heir to. Silence, they say, was golden then. Now it is but a distant memory of their grandparents.

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