This article is based on the assumption that values education has much to offer to a country that is struggling to overcome a fractured moral landscape. Pursuing a modest agenda, the focus of the article is on values and values education in the context of schooling in South Africa. We suggest that debates about what constitutes values and values education raise important philosophical and pedagogical questions about what values are and which values should be prioritized. We contend that it is unlikely that values education will in any significant way meet the expectations of South Africa's Constitution and its national school curriculum intentions, if it is not underpinned by conceptual clarification of what values are in relation to the role that values education is expected to fulfil in South Africa's schools. Intended as a conceptual investigation, the article explores different interpretations, tensions and assumptions that confront the notions of values and values education. We suggest that the insights from such a conceptual clarification could provide an appropriate platform not only for a coherent approach to values education, but also for the more effectual transfer and take up of values in schools. We favour a pragmatist conception based on the notion 'shared goods' in terms of which values education in schools can lay the basis for dialogical encounters necessary for addressing our country's diverse and even divergent values orientations.