Many current debates in Australia regarding the policy, politics and practicalities of childcare provision are embedded in dominant discourses of maternalism. This article places these debates within some historical contexts, emphasising the long history of these debates and the enduring centrality of maternalism - where the most revered of roles and relationships a woman can have is that of mother and one-on-one carer for her young child. In this article, the author discusses some of the historical points at which maternalism came to dominate early childhood education and care. The author considers Froebel, and the women who spread his word, nation building and the rise of psychology, making links between these and current debates in Australia.
Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood Vol. 8, Issue 2, p. 157 - 165