In 1960 in the article “Marketing Myopia” published by the Harvard Business Review, Ted Levitt wrote, “No one buys a quarter-inch drill bit because they need a quarter-inch drill bit. What they need is a quarter-inch hole. That’s what you should sell them.”

In 2018 in This is Marketing, Seth Godin expanded on that: “What would you possibly need a quarter-inch hole for? What you need is a place to put the expansion bolt so you can put a screw in the wall. But actually, you don’t need that. What you need is to put the shelf on the wall. But you don’t really need that. What you need is a place to put the books that are cluttering your bedroom. But you don’t even really need that. What you need is the way you will feel when your spouse thanks you for cleaning things up. What you really need are safety and security and a feeling that you did something that was important. That’s what we sell.”

We’ve looked at this before.

What business are you in?

If we believe (and I do) it should be the duty of schools to help learners find their innate talents, help them to develop those talents, and turn them into skills they can use in the working world so they can lead meaningful, happy lives, then why are we running English schools?

Why are we teaching something most Japanese people neither need, want nor will use, much in the way maths, after basic numeracy, is taught in schools?

Is it because it’s all we can do as immigrants?

Are we selling the fear of missing out?

Are we doing it because if we don’t, someone else will?

Or are we doing it to make a living first, and then creating a narrative second that justifies it? “It broadens the mind; it increases opportunity; it makes people ‘more international’; it helps with education.”

Do we listen to people to find out what they need or want? Or do we tell them?

Is that your safety and security and the feeling that you did something important?