Growing our own: A 'two way', place-based approach to Indigenous initial teacher education in remote Northern Territory


  • Ben Van Gelderen Charles Darwin University



Indigenous, ITE, 'two way', place-based pedagogy


Growing Our Own is an innovative and unique program for Initial Teacher Education (ITE) in the remote Northern Territory. As a partnership between Catholic Education, Northern Territory (CENT) and Charles Darwin University (CDU), lecturers travel to remote Indigenous communities to deliver unit content to local 'Assistant Teachers’ enrolled in the Bachelor of Education: Primary degree. However, it is much more than an effective scheduling exercise; the program has been intentionally established to function under the ‘two way’ pedagogy whereby the pre-service teachers, their mentors and lecturers engage in a process of epistemological dialogue and exchange. There is also a place-based emphasis, with a clear pattern of teaching ‘on country’. Overall, such a process of genuine negotiation to incorporate localised Indigenous Language and Knowledge within the Australian Curriculum is opening up new and exciting possibilities for (school) student learning and a tertiary Indigenous ‘standpoint’.

Growing Our Own was established in 2009 and has been refined over the years to meet the increasing demands on Initial Teacher Education and local community desires. This paper is both a report concerning the successes of the program thus far and a critical reflection on some of the key findings that have evolved in regards to such a ‘two way’, place-based, Indigenous andragogic approach.

Author Biography

Ben Van Gelderen, Charles Darwin University

Ben van Gelderen is a Lecturer in Education; Co-ordinator of the Growing Our Own project. This innovative program is a joint partnership between CDU and the Catholic Education Office, Northern Territory, involving the delivery of the Bachelor of Education in five remote Indigenous communities.
Ben has worked as an English teacher, Chaplain, Teacher/Linguist, EAL/D consultant and Curriculum Advisor in Independent and Catholic schools across NSW and NT. His Master of Education project was collaborative and transdisciplinary research with the Indigenous Gäwa community on Elcho Island to help provide digital resources for the intergenerational transmission of language and cultural knowledge. He is a current PhD student.


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How to Cite

Van Gelderen, B. (2017). Growing our own: A ’two way’, place-based approach to Indigenous initial teacher education in remote Northern Territory. Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, 27(1), 14–28.