ABOUT THE LEARNING BARN
Welcome from Wendy Grimshaw
The Learning Barn is relocating. Please check back for more information in the near future. Welcome to The Learning Barn, a one-room-school-house located on Willow Creek Farm in Botetourt County, Virginia! Housed in a renovated horse barn, this educational facility provides area students with agriculturally-oriented classes in which farm learning is a preparation for future living. As a PhD student in Integrative STEM Education at VA Tech, I've learned about the advantages of progressive, student-driven learning environments—those that focus on creating rich experiences for intellectual and social growth. As both a public school teacher, and a home school parent, I've seen students thrive in such an environment. Whether a student is experiencing or desiring challenge, or simply needing a change of venue, the goal of The Learning Barn is to provide a nurturing and flexible learning environment that empowers students in their pursuit of academic and social development. Please read more about our philosophy of learning below. I invite you to join us as we sow organic learning in this simple, social setting!
Wendy Grimshaw, PhD
Owner & Educator
Here at The Learning Barn, we embrace opportunities to cultivate human flourishing, especially in the field of education. Author Ken Robinson once stated,
“We have to go from what is essentially an industrial model of education—a manufacturing model which is based on linearity and conformity and batching people. We have to move to a model that is based more on the principles of agriculture. We have to recognize that human flourishing is not a mechanical process. And you cannot predict the outcome of human development. All you can do is, like a farmer, is create the conditions under which [students] will begin to flourish” (2010 TEDTalk).
In keeping with these ideals, The Learning Barn classes are based on Robinson’s four principles of organic learning:
Health. Organic education promotes the development and well-being of the whole student, intellectually, physically, spiritually, and socially.
Ecology. Organic education recognizes the vital interdependence of all of these aspects of development, within each student and the community as a whole.
Fairness. Organic education cultivates the individual talents and potential of all students, whatever their circumstances, and respects the roles and responsibilities of those who work with them.
Care. Organic education creates optimum conditions for students’ development, based on compassion, experience, and practical wisdom. (Creative Schools, 2015, pp. 44-45)
Willow Creek Farm
Nestled in the valley between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains, Willow Creek Farm is a small-scale working farm. Under previous ownership, the property has served as both a dairy farm, and a horse farm, and remnants of these uses are evident in the land and outbuildings.
The animals that currently call the farm home include chickens, ducks, goats, and sheep. The farm also has several vegetable gardens, and a stand of fruit trees, that provide food for community consumption.
The clean waters of the creek, which runs through the center of the property, have worn smooth a number of limestone outcroppings to form small waterfalls.
Adjacent to the creek, there are also a number of water-loving Willow and Sycamore trees that provide a safe habitat for both domestic and wild animals. It is a setting that hums with life in all seasons, and a wonderful place to connect with nature.