It is very rare for any course of human action to be taken or adopted for one single reason. There are usually ostensible motives, the ones we reveal to others, but also there frequently exist other, perhaps less creditable explanations for what we do. Often, we do not acknowledge these hidden motives, even to ourselves. Perhaps we arrange for an elderly relative to be admitted to a hospital and then transferred to an old people's home. On the face of it, we are doing what is best for her and reap the credit for being a good niece. In fact, we are thoroughly fed up with going round her house twice a week to attend to her needs. Getting her into an institution may well be in her best interests; but that is not really why we have done it.
Of course, it is not always a case of an apparently altruistic motive concealing a base and ignoble one. It just as often happens that somebody will affect to be callous and hard and will present his actions as being based upon his own self interest, when in fact he is doing a genuine good deed! Humans are very complicated like that.
I was thinking about this recently apropos of home education. In my own case, the explanation which I regularly advance for not having sent my daughter to school is that I could provide her with a far better education at home than she could ever have received at school. This is demonstrably true, but is not really the reason for my failure to enrol her at a school. The truth is that I enjoyed her company tremendously when she was two and three and was very reluctant to deprive myself of it just because she turned five. I was essentially being selfish.
Why do some people choose not to send their children to school? I am sure that there are as many motives for this action as there are home educators, but I also have an idea that these motives fall into several broad categories. One of these is without doubt the same thing which motivated me to home educate. A mother loves her child so much and gets so much pleasure from her daughter or son, that she wishes to hang onto the child and not be deprived of his company during weekdays. There can be varying degrees of this and it can be a positive or negative motive. If it is because the mother really loves being with the child and would miss him; that would be a positive thing. If on the other hand, it is a fear of being left alone all day; this would be a negative reason, not really connected with the child at all.
Quite a few home educating parents have very bad memories of school themselves. Either the teachers failed to recognise their intelligence or the other pupils treated them badly. They are already prejudiced against school and this predisposes them to view schools as bad places. If they do send their children, then at the first hint of a problem they will deregister them. These are parents who are not really making rational decisions, but are the victims of their own pasts. A surprising number of home educators were unhappy or bullied at school and it is an odd coincidence that they go on to claim that their own children suffered similarly. In many cases, this is clearly a projection of their own anxieties onto their children.
However much evidence we manage to produce in support of our decision not to do what everybody else does and send our children to school, it is very often the case that such evidence is not the reason for our action, but merely justification for a decision which we have already taken on other, possibly less rational grounds. We are not and nor should we be purely logical where our children are concerned and there is nothing wrong with making choices based only upon natural love and affection for our offspring.
The trouble might start when the justifications which we produce for not sending our children to school are faulty or do not match up with the available objective evidence. Those opposed to the practice of home education then seize upon such discrepancies and accuse us of having hidden purposes and sinister reasons for wanting to keep our kids at home with us. What are they really up to? Obviously, this is not about the child's education at all! In a sense, they are quite right. Nobody really chooses to spend twenty four hours a day, seven days a week in the company of a toddler or teenager for purely educational reasons. There is always more to it than meets the eye.