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To understand the Australian Breastfeeding Association’s approach to adult education and the educational practices it introduced into maternal education in Australia in the period 1964-2009, it is useful to consider adult education generally and maternal education specifically during the twentieth century. Most of what passes for education of mothers is informal adult education. One view is that mothers require expert instruction and supervision with regulation of feeding to ensure their babies survive. The opposite view is that mothers should receive no formal instruction at all about being mothers: breastfeeding and caring for babies are, in this view, instinctive activities. However, the Association’s approach has featured autonomous learners with volunteer facilitators in informal settings. One theory that assists particularly in understanding the educational model used by the Association is the humanistic theory of adult education. Another theory relevant to maternal education is a heutagogical approach to adult education, advocated by radical adult education theorists. To understand the Association’s educational approach, it is necessary to establish the core principles of the education provided to mothers by the Association. The archival research has demonstrated an understanding of the Association’s approach to maternal education. The primary feature of the approach is mother to mother learning. The findings of this paper will increase knowledge of how adults are educated and contribute to understanding of adult education, particularly maternal education. There will be implications for education of mothers and perhaps of women generally which will be of interest to those involved in adult education.

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