What counts as appropriate and relevant teaching and learning in post-colonial settings is seldom accounted for in terms of 'indigenous' or 'vernacular' classroom practices. The pervasiveness of western-styled education and curricula means that, for the most part, education by indigenous teachers in indigenous settings is represented as an approximation of the ideals of western practices. While this paper does not claim to 'speak' for indigenous communities, it does reflect an interest in improving understanding of teaching and learning in these communities through sociolinguistic analysis and ethnographic study. Specifically, the paper undertakes an analysis of classroom interaction in a Papua New Guinea lower grades primary classroom exploring a variation of the IRF exchange and discussing its function as a solidarity marker, problematising characterisations of such teaching and learning as rote and meaningless. It describes how local theories of face and community mediate classroom interactions through discourses of social alignment and cohesion.