This is a groundbreaking and unique book. Those are words which can seldom be used honestly in referring to a new book. In this case they are well justified. Vallory’s work begins to fill a huge gap in the published literatures regarding 1) comparative education; 2) non-formal education; and 3) citizenship/moral education. The subject of study is world scouting, which is a curiously un-researched phenomenon. … In spite of its size and reach and international recognition, the published academic literature on World Scouting is scanty, to put it mildly. There are some local accounts or histories, and a few scholarly articles or books, mostly dealing with the early history of the movement, all of which the author cites. But it is a quite tiny list considering the history, global reach and size of the scouting movement. (…)
This is a masterful book on the history of World Scouting. Vallory has managed to capture the main features of the worldwide spread of this voluntary educational movement over a century, through the course of two World Wars, many smaller conflicts, the “cold war” and its aftermath, and the eras of European colonization of much of the world, and then de-colonization and the establishment of myriad new nations, all in a relatively brief text. Vallory is excellent at pulling together the various strands of a very complicated history covering just over a century, in a manner which is readable and clear. He highlights and outlines the main tendencies and tensions without getting dragged down in endless details; but does offer telling “details” at just the right point to illustrate the main story he is developing. And the footnotes are quite helpful in guiding the reader who may have a great interest in some particular detail to a deeper level of literature. (…)
This work is a monumental contribution to the ongoing debates in comparative and international education, and other social science and educational fields as well, over issues such as “globalization” and “localization” or cross-cultural institutional transfer. … As Vallory amply demonstrates, “scouting” is everywhere “local” yet everywhere “global”, always identifiably “scouting.” For students of comparative and international education there is much of great value here to ponder over and learn from. (…)
Given its global scope it is obvious that world scouting exists and thrives in all such societies, and develops within them (among its members at least) as well a consciousness of “belonging” or “citizenship” in a global community as well. It is in discussing how this came about, how scouting could develop, implant and maintain its vision of global citizenship across such varied cultural/historical terrain that Vallory’s work really stands out. This is ultimately a story of subtle international diplomacy at one level with local level work at another level. It is a very complex and conflict-ridden tale which is very well told in this book, and well worth pondering for anyone who is seriously interested in trying to find ways in which the varied people of this planet can learn to live together peacefully.
Since this book is the first systematic scholarly study of the vast terrain of World Scouting, there are many questions which beg for further study. But that is a function of a groundbreaking work such as this. Now that the ground has been broken there are myriad furrows to plow, and fields to sow and harvest. That is for the future. Here it is enough to have begun, and done so very well indeed.
Joseph P. Farrell ,
Professor emeritus, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (University of Toronto); Past President, Comparative and International Education Society