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Pioneering Moral Education

Victor Cook and His Foundation

William A. Gatherer

Hardback (Printed to Order)

This book is a biography of a leader of the campaign for moral education which had been conducted for several decades in Britain and in the USA. The campaign has culminated in the establishment of many programmes of 'education for citizenship', 'values education', ethics education', 'character education' and 'education for global citizenship' - in effect, the establishment of moral education in schools throughout the world. But the book is also a history of the campaign in the UK since the 1960s, when Victor Cook, a millionaire engineer and businessman in Aberdeen, began to devote his remaining thirty years of life, and all his wealth, to persuading the educational establishment to give priority to this central area of the work of schools. Faced with indifference and even mockery, Cook and the small but growing band of professional educationists and philosophers recruited to the cause set up studies of the subject and its problems, commissioned research and development projects, and sponsored conferences and experimental teaching programmes. They also encouraged policy makers and politicians to take seriously the proposition that moral education, conducted along with or in addition to cognate subjects such as religious education and social studies, can and should be introduced as an important function of educational organisations. Set in the context of recent educational developments, this narrative, and the accompanying expositions of theories and practices, provides new insights into a complex but important subject, and a comprehensive account of the development of moral education and its role in the world of today.


Draft Contents:
1 The life and times of Victor Cook
2 Towards the Foundation
3 Victor as Lobbyist
4 The Plan and The Deed
5 Political Constraints
6 Developments in Moral Education: Theory and Practice
7 The failure of the pedagogy
8 The way towards public acceptance
9 The1980s: Progress
10 Triumphs and anxieties
11 Tributes
12 Towards a theory of values education
13 The Campaign in the nineties
14 New emphases: values education for health and enterprise
15 Education for citizenship
16 Education for character and moral competence
17 Appendices, Notes and References, Index.

About the Author

W. A. Gatherer is a former member of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education and Chief Adviser in Lothian Region and a Founding Trustee of the Gordon Cook Foundation. He is a contributor to the textbook on Scottish Education edited by Bryce and Humes (EUP), and author of numerous articles on education.


'Comprehensive and frequently entertaining… the publisher should make sure that every school in Scotland buys a copy… Gatherer's account is a fascinating overview of the machinations required to influence and implement curricular change. For its historical record alone, it is worth the read.'
Basically the book is about two things which are skilfully interwoven in the text. The first is a very honest but often moving portrait of what would appear to have been an unusual and interesting man. This picture is no whitewash: although Gatherer's own affection for Cook is fairly evident, he also gives a very objective no-nonsense critical assessment of Cook's often rather naive ideas about moral education, which seems to me to be a worthwhile task in its own right. The second part or dimension of the work amounts to a very interesting evaluative account of developments in moral and values education over a socially and politically interesting recent period of Scottish history. Again, I found this to be of enormous value and interest - at least partly in view of the way that Gatherer has managed to place these developments in the larger context of late-twentieth-century work in ethics and moral education.
- Professor David Carr