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|Mary Warnock, Baroness Warnock|
14 April 1924 |
Winchester, Hampshire, England.
|Alma mater||Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford|
|Known for||Philosopher of morality, education and mind, and writer on existentialism.|
Warnock was born Mary Wilson on 14 April 1924 in Winchester, England, and was the youngest of seven children. Her mother was from a prosperous family. Her father Archie Wilson, a Scotsman, was a housemaster and taught German at Winchester College. He caught diphtheria in 1923 and consequently died of heart failure. Warnock was brought up by her mother and a nanny. She never knew her eldest sibling, Malcolm, who had autism and was cared for in a nursing home, spending his last days in a Dorset hospital. Her brother Sandy died when very young. Her other brother, Duncan, became master of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.
When Warnock was seven months old the family moved to Kelso House, a three-floor Victorian house, now the music centre at Peter Symonds College. She and her sister Stefana were cared for primarily by the family nanny. Warnock was educated as a boarder St Swithun's School, Winchester.
Warnock has said that when she was a child she was embarrassed by her mother, who looked different to most people, often by wearing long flowing dark red clothes and walking with turned out feet. However, when Warnock was about 15 years old, she began to admire her mother's eccentricity and independent thinking.
Warnock studied at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, and was made an Honorary Fellow in 1984. From 1949 to 1966, she was a Fellow and tutor in philosophy at St Hugh's College, Oxford. She was Talbot Research Fellow at Lady Margaret Hall (1972–76). From 1976 to 1984, she was a Senior Research Fellow at St Hugh's College, and was made an Honorary Fellow of the College in 1985. She then became Mistress of Girton College, Cambridge (1986–89). Warnock delivered the Gifford Lectures, entitled "Imagination and Understanding," at University of Glasgow in 1992. In 2000, she was a visiting professor of rhetoric at Gresham College, London.
In the early 1960s, whilst still teaching at St Hugh's College, Warnock took a seat on the Oxfordshire local education authority. From 1966 to 1972, she was Headmistress at the Oxford High School for girls. She is a patron of The Iris Project, a charity which promotes the teaching of classics.
Because of her background as an educationalist, Warnock was appointed in 1974 to chair a UK inquiry on special education. Her report, published in 1978, brought radical change in the field, by placing emphasis on the teaching of learning disabled children in mainstream schools and introducing a system of "statementing" children in order for them to gain entitlement to special educational support. Warnock has since expressed dissatisfaction with the system she helped to create, calling it "appalling" because of the expense of its administration and its tendency to deny support to mildly disadvantaged children. She has recommended the establishment of a new inquiry.
From 1982 to 1984, she chaired the Committee of Inquiry into Human Fertilisation and Embryology. Her report on this occasion gave rise to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, which governs human fertility treatment and experimentation using human embryos. Its effect has been to require licensing for procedures such as in vitro fertilisation and to ban research using human embryos more than 14 days old. According to Suzy Leather, chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, "perhaps the greatest achievement of the Warnock committee is that it managed to get an ethical consensus that people understood as well as shared".
In 2008, Warnock, a committed advocate of euthanasia, caused controversy with an opinion that people with dementia should be allowed to elect to die if they felt they were "a burden to their family or the state".
As chairwoman of committees of inquiry:
|Mistress of Girton College, Cambridge
Juliet J. D'Auvergne Campbell
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