patterson headshotI’m Leslie Patterson. I have spent my whole life in Texas public schools.

My father and mother taught in small towns across the state, and my sisters and I spent much of our childhood at ball games, pep rallies, play rehearsals, and in the teacher’s lounge, waiting for mother to finish her school day. I began my teaching career in Apple Springs, a tiny school district in deep East Texas, where I taught English to students in 7th, 9th, 10, 11th, ane 12th grades, directed the senior class play, and sponsored the senior class. Later, I taught in a rural district near Lubbock and then spent 7 years teaching English at Conroe High, north of Houston. When I completed my doctorate in 1987, I moved into teacher education–and served on the faculties at Sam Houston State University, University of Houston, and University of North Texas. I retired from university teaching in 2013.

Now, I get to spend my time working with amazing educators who are working to make schools great learning spaces. Over the years, I have come to see the power of generative learning — learning that adapts to unexpected challenges and learning that sustains itself over time. Lifelong learning for adults and young people, too.

This blog is about what I am learning from these outstanding teachers and school leaders in two powerful learning networks:

National Writing Project    http://www.nwp.org


Human Systems Dynamics Institute    http://www.hsdinstitute.org

Generative learning happens as we stand in inquiry, look around at our world, and ask three questions:

  • What is happening?
  • So what might it mean?
  • Now what shall we do about it?

Generative learning is what people do as they approach each day in deliberate and mindful ways. These three questions drive the kind of learning that helps us work in creative and adaptive ways. If we are rigorous and thoughtful in the ways we notice and name patterns in what is happening, we can then interpret  what these patterns might mean to us and to the larger community. How did things come to be this way? What do these happenings say about our assumptions, about our goals, about our work?  This analysis can suggest options for action as we move forward.

Generative learning is at the heart of all human endeavors–science, philosophy, art, the humanities.  I believe that a focus on generative learning can change the way our institutions work in the U.S. in the 21st century. More specifically, I believe that generative learning can help us transform how children and adults teach and learn in public schools.

This site is a place to explore the potential for generative learning in public school transformation.  It is grounded in almost 40 years of my work as a teacher, a writer, a researcher, and a teacher educator in public schools in the U.S. It is also grounded in my collaboration with many teachers and learners over the years. This blog will point to collaborative and generative learning with two primary networks:

Leslie Patterson

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