All families create elaborate myths around their members. Johnny is the "practical one", Mary is "a dreamer". Uncle Joe is the "artistic one" and so on. There is little harm in this sort of thing where adults are concerned, but with children it is another thing entirely. Having such labels attached to children can have the effect of making them behave in certain ways; either to confirm or vehemently to reject their chosen mythic role. In other words, because Susan is seen as being artistic, her parents might buy her lots of art materials and so on. Susan might then feel that this is in a sense her destiny and fall in with the family view of seeing herself as "artistic". With the best will in the world, the family is shaping her in a certain way. She might rebel and refuse to have anything to do with her assigned role. She might do this by throwing herself into mechanics or something, thus showing that she is her own person. This too has been caused by the family expectations. What has all this to do with home education?
For most children, there is the opportunity to develop an alternative mythic role. This happens at school. There, the child whose parents think she is "the quiet and good natured one" can instead be "the troublemaker" or "the awkward one". This can be very satisfying to a child anxious to overthrow her familial mythic role and it explains why many parents become puzzled and unhappy when they learn how their children are viewed at school. They aren't like that at home! It must be the bad influence of the school. It is nothing of the sort; it is a human being asserting his or her right to be somebody defined by themselves rather than their relatives!
A hazard with home education is that children are often deprived of this opportunity to develop other mythic roles. The child who is seen as "artistic" will be encouraged in that and perhaps allowed to abandon science in favour of art. The "practical" one might end up tinkering around with machinery, with little attempt being made to introduce her to Keats or Shakespeare. Thus the family of a home educated child can without really being aware of it, mould the child and close off certain options.
At school, the case is quite different. the National Curriculum takes no account at all of the mythic role which an adolescent might have adopted! He may see himself as a latter day Van Gogh, but he will still be required to study mathematics. This is a good thing. Although as many home educators have remarked, children can be put off subjects by being made to study them, it also happens frequently that a child with no interest in poetry discovers through being compelled to study it, that he actually likes poetry. Or biology or many other things which left to his own devices he would have avoided.
None of this is an argument against home education, simply that I am musing upon a theme which I have seldom seen mentioned by home educating parents. It certainly happened in my own family. Simone is "the academic one", her sister Morgan was always "the practical one". To what extent I have maintained the myth of my younger daughter and how far she would have created her own myth if given the opportunity afforded by school is an interesting point!