The pharoahs of Egypt decided that marrying siblings had advantages. Although nature abhors incest, shown by animal behaviors that avoid close kin interbreeding, it has certain economic advantages. For centuries the middle class of Egypt followed the example set by their leaders and incest was the norm.
The noblemen of China believed small feet were a sign of beauty, not unlike the preference for Cinderella's tiny tootsies in the fairy tale, but they conceived the idea of folding back the toes in little girls with normal feet to achieve the ultimate in tiny feet. Thus an entire culture tortured and crippled its little girls for centuries in the pursuit of a spurious idea of beauty.
A French king wanted to witness the birth of his mistress's baby and his will was granted by having her lie down for the birth instead of squatting as is normal. Thus modern women mostly suffer through birth lying down unless they are fortunate enough to have a midwife preside at the birth instead of an OB.
There are many other examples of how stupid elite behavior is adopted by the society at large. The idea of sending children away from home to go to boarding school is one example. In medieval Europe the various counts and barons began to exchange hostages. Sons were sent to the castle of the liege lord or rival where they were trained as pages, then squires, essentially unpaid servants. When hostages were no longer the political advantage they had been earlier, the habit of sending the kids away for schooling remained the favored option among the elites.
Thus the idea of boarding school became entrenched in western society. It is not found in other cultures where it is properly perceived that children are better off to be at home until they reach the age of maturity that no longer requires parental supervision.
A good example of this is the scriptural account of Jesus who lingered at the temple. He was old enough and wise enough to counsel with the elders, but he still obeyed his mother when she discovered he was not with the family on the return trip home and returned to fetch him.
Boarding schools dilute the influence of the family and strengthen the influence of peers.
The British, in particular, continue the idea that it is a favored few who can afford to send their children away from home for schooling except for holiday periods. Such icons as Harry Potter and the children in the Narnia books promulgate the practice.
Sending children with 'special needs' away to institutions where they can receive 'better care' has been favorably received at various times. Thus children with Down's Syndrome were seldom seen in public for many years. States and municipalities created institutions where paid attendants 'trained' the children. Lately the idea of warehousing these children has been seen as cruel and wasteful. They are kept at home and provided with training and teaching through their schooling.
It may be perceived that to send a child to an institution where they are taught and cared for, instead of making provisions to care for them at home, provides a better opportunity for them to be surrounded by their peers, but there is a far greater risk that they will be abused and neglected by those employed to care for them.
What parent, except under exigencies of poverty or incarceration, would agree to have their children sent to an orphanage or work house, yet the practice of institutionalizing children with assorted handicaps or talents, except for rare visits to family, continues to be seen as a desirable behavior by many.