I would have said that it is very probable that her structured teaching was based on a carefully thought-out syllabus, which only needs to be a few personal notes, based on years of experience of what works well, and may be shared with no one else. If such knowledge could be shared, and refined, it could be of considerable usefulness to other teachers, and through them, to the dance community.
Inevitably, some of those fundamentals might be best illustrated in the form of a pattern, and the accompanying description of it - and hey, we're back to patterns. But it has always been my view that as long as the pattern exists to apply a principle or use a fundamental element, it can have considerable value in learning. It's all in the presentation of the material. I can only speak for myself, but I would never want to teach figures at the expense of the necessary technique that underpins their execution. I just don't see why it has to be one or the other. Both, please.