The Woods Fund



The Woods FundCommittee was set up in 2005 to administer a fund (The Woods Fund) based on a bequest of $80,000 from Mr. Frederic Edward Woods to the Department ofPhilosophy at the University of Auckland to promote the teaching of philosophy in secondary schools. The bequest was not specific about the kinds of activities that might be funded, although to accord with the terms of the bequest all such activities should be in line with how Mr Woods saw the importance of philosophy for secondary school students: its ability to lend rigor and clarity to students’ discussions about some of the most fundamental issues facing them in their studies and lives. (In his typed notes to the will, MrWoods mentioned that as a high school teacher he had very successfully introduced his students to some logic, history of science, esp. Archimedes, and in particular Plato’s dialogues, but it is clear that his ambitions for the teaching of philosophy were considerably larger, constrained only by what he saw as his own limitations.) 

In line with this history, the objectives of the Committee are to:

  • Support the introduction of philosophy into secondary schools in New Zealand, either asa formal subject, or as an adjunct to other curriculum areas.
  • Support the creation of resource materials for secondary school philosophy, especially resources designed for use in the New Zealand context.
  • Support academically rigorous research connected to secondary school philosophy.
  • Support teachers in their attempts to bring philosophy to the secondary school classroom.

The Woods FundCommittee has made a large number of grants over the last decade on the basis of requests to the Committee. Following the founding of the New Zealand Association of Philosophy Teaching (NZAPT), members of the Committee been regular attenders at NZAPT conferences and have indicated the Committee’s interest in getting applications from NZAPT, its office bearers and its members.  The bulk of applications over the last 5years have been from NZAPT and its members. Activities supported by the Fund have included attending and presenting at the New Zealand Association of Philosophy Teaching (NZAPT) Conference; presenting material at other conferences and workshops that have as a theme philosophy in secondary schools; prizes for philosophy students in secondary schools in New Zealand; new philosophy resources for high schools, such as a large data-base of bibliographical resources; philosophy festivals; research into methods and modules for teaching philosophy in secondary schools, including critical thinking as a philosophically informed subject.

The Committee will continue to receive and evaluate applications for support from The WoodsFund on an ad hoc basis.

The composition of the Committee:

The Committee will be composed of three members of Philosophy staff at the University of Auckland. The Convenor of Philosophy at the University of Auckland will be a member of the Committee. In the event that any other member of the Committee stands down, the Committee(including the departing member) will elect a new member. The Committee may also appoint up to two advisory (non-voting) members.

Current members:

Chair: Professor Fred Kroon

Other members: Dr Vanya Kovach, Dr Matheson Russell

Dr Kroon, who wasHead of Department when the Woods Bequest was made, has regularly presented seminars on philosophy to students at Kristin School.

Dr Kovach is the coordinator and professional development leader for Philosophy for Children NewZealand, and former chair of the Federation of Australasian Philosophy inSchools Associations. 

Dr Russell is currently convenor of the Disciplinary Area of Philosophy, and was appointed to the committee following the death of Dr McKeown-Green, a former secondary school teacher, who was a long-standing member of the Woods Committee.