Will Haines is Head of Economics at St. Olave's Grammar School and he has a passion for wellbeing and living a good life.
Why did you choose to study economics?
I haven't got an exciting answer. It wasn't my best subject school, but the financial crisis had just kicked off and I thought it was a good time to study it. I found Economics at university both challenging and uninspiring! I underestimated how much Maths was involved and how little it related to the real world. We studied equation after equation and model after model, all of which failed to answer the key questions facing society. I know things have changed, but I still think there is a lot of work to be done in this area.
How would you describe economics?
The subject that has the potential to solve the most significant issues facing this world, whether it be climate change, absolute poverty or mental ill-health. I genuinely think that every student across the country should be taught an introductory course in Economics as it is essential for modern life. I also love the way that Economics evolves quicker than you can learn. I have taught the subject for nearly 10 years and I have barely scratched the surface.
If you had a time machine and could meet your 16-year-old self, what advice would you give them?
To engage with your subjects beyond the confines of the curriculum. I, admittedly, was not very passionate about academic work at school and spent a lot of my time playing sport. What did bring me to life was being able to relate learning in the classroom to the outside world, but this took me 21 years to realise this. So, if you have not found a passion now, that doesn't mean you will not find something further down the line.
What is your favourite part of economics?
Maths is my weak spot so I don't like in-depth theory or economic models. I like problem solving and get excited by discussing real world issues with my students. Currently, I am reading about the impact that capitalism is having on mental ill-health. Personally, I think we underestimate the hold that capitalism has on how we live our lives it has taken away our freedoms, made life competitive, promoted individualism and made us focus much of our attention on the future, rather than the present. It sounds quite radical, but I think it's actually pretty logical and an area which is under-explored.
Is there anything you would do differently if you had the chance?
Lots, but I think this is part of growing up and learning about yourself. I didn't work hard enough at school or university, but I still had a great time. Now, I love learning. I don't think I read a proper book until I left university and I currently read every day. I still think there is some value in allowing people to work things out for themselves and not searching for a quick solution. At the end of the day, life is a journey with both ups and downs.