This article, drawing on philosophical sources, proposes a certain way of seeing the nature and scope of values education: as a matter of 'sustaining the ethical environment'. The idea is introduced that just as we live in a physical environment we also live in an ethical environment, 'the surrounding climate of ideas about how to live'. It is argued that there are some illuminating analogies between our responsibility for the quality of the physical environment and our responsibility for the quality of the ethical environment. Values education, in turn, can be seen as an important way in which we can collectively attend to the quality of the ethical environment; in doing so, we should put positive value on diversity within that environment. This way of seeing values education suggests a way in which teachers can realistically see their own responsibilities for values education.