Well it looks like pretty much all the bolded areas Psia should seriously consider.
No regional fiefdoms, one national standard. One group producing technical materials.
I don't often disagree with you, Tog, but in this case, I could not disagree more. Why would we want "one group producing technical materials," when we could tap into the talents and expertise of over 30,000 members nationwide? The "one group" top-down thing is simpler, for sure. But I can think of no better way to alienate the membership, waste its potential, or stifle the true innovation that virtually never comes from "committees" or established dogma. "Top down" is not the American Way--for better, or for worse (and of course, there is some of each).
PSIA is a very different structure and represents a very different philosophy than CSIA, from SkiDude's description, at least. Superficially, they are similar, with a National organization and regional Divisions. But SkiDude describes CSIA as very much a "top-down" centralized organization, where ideas and resources originate at the top and are "handed down" to the regions and members. It is a national organization first and foremost. And it does appear to work impressively well.
PSIA, on the other hand, is a rather loose affiliation of nine regional instructor associations that long predated PSIA (national). What is now PSIA-Rocky Mountain (my division), for example, was originally the Rocky Mountain Ski Instructors Association (RMSIA) (and actually, it had another name that I do not recall, prior to that). In 1983 or so, the nine separate associations agreed--some eagerly, some perhaps reluctantly, to align themselves with each other under a "national" umbrella organization in the interest of fostering a true American "brand." The names were changed--ours to PSIA-RM, and others similarly--and each association replaced its own logo and certification pin with the now (arguably) well-known PSIA shield, but the Divisions remained fully independent associations with their own governing boards and financial and dues structures. In a perfect scenario--and in what I believe was the original intent--"National" would serve the Divisions as a communication nexus, facilitating the sharing of information, knowledge, and best practices, as well as providing a vehicle for collaboration in developing resources such as "national standards." In PSIA, National serves the Divisions and the membership, and acts at their behest.
At least, that's the way it started. For years, manuals were collaborative works authored by top experts in various fields. Even the so-called "national standards" represented a collaboration of members and representatives from the nine Divisions. And it worked very well indeed. Collectively, the nine Divisions, through the nexus of the National organization, produced some of the most innovative and forward-thinking breakthroughs in skiing and ski teaching, including the American Teaching Method (tm), the Skills Concept (tm), the Center Line Model (tm) and more, along with pioneering the uniquely American "humanistic" student-centered approach to teaching. Many of these advances have since been adopted by national instructor associations worldwide, pretty much replacing the old "national techniques" and mechanistic, technique-focused and instructor-centered rigid teaching progressions of the traditional teaching systems. I remember well hearing Professor Franz Hoppichler, Austria's director of skiing and head of the famed Bundessportheim (essentially the "college" in the Arlberg where Austrian ski instructors are educated), in 1988 sing the praises of the Skills Concept and the humanistic teaching model that PSIA had introduced and that was transforming ski instruction in Austria and elsewhere.
It was an interesting and perhaps improbable synergy. Entirely driven from the "bottom up," PSIA's nine independent associations created a real, cohesive, and uniquely American identity. Each regional association continued to train and certify instructors independently, serving the diverse needs of their "local" members, while collaborating with the other Divisions in developing National Standards and the PSIA "brand." From the beginning, I suspect, there were regional variations--inconsistencies, if you like--in the implementation of those national standards, but with obviously diverse demographics and resources, the associations did their best to serve their members.
In more recent years, it seems that PSIA (national) would prefer to move toward a more top-down centralized model. And that is where our problems are coming from. Although I have long expressed concern over what appears to be regional differences in the certification standards, I am not so sure anymore that it is a problem that needs solving. The skill set requirements for instructors to succeed in different divisions vary widely. In Rocky Mountain, a typical full-cert instructor will teach private lessons and small groups in terrain and conditions completely unknown in some other divisions. In Central, you'd better be able to teach a schoolbus load of beginning kids in a one-hour lesson on a tiny hill and get them home safely. Rocky Mountain instructors don't do that, any more than Central instructors teach double black diamond bumps.
So why, realistically, would we need to certify them to the exact same skill set and standard? I'm no longer convinced that a true National Certification would actually serve our students as well as we might think. Although shared access to the same pools of knowledge and philosophies for instructors certainly benefits students--and I encourage that--I really can't see why a student in Wisconsin would care how well her instructor skis Colorado bumps. And if that instructor cares, he is more than welcome to come to Colorado to take the Rocky Mountain version of the exam.
And of course, that is the problem, in a nutshell--that we wear the same pin, suggesting a national standard that really does not exist. There are, of course, two ways to solve that problem. Trying to "force" a true national standard is only one of them. Embracing our regional differences as the strengths they can be, while encouraging innovation from the bottom up, is the other. What is wrong with sharing our resources across the country (for consistency), while still celebrating our demographic, cultural, and most of all geographic and geological diversity?
It works in Europe. The entire skiing portion of western Europe would fit into several of our larger divisions. But would it enrich the students' experience, or diminish it, if all of their instructors and ski schools homogenized into one "consistent" lesson plan and experience, following a single "European Union Instructor Association"? Would it foster innovation, or stifle it?
So I think we may be yodeling down the wrong couloir in obsessing over a unified national certification standard and a top-down driven association--even though that is what we've tried to imply for a long time. As many have suggested, a true "national standard" must absolutely entail compromise. Is that good? It would involve conformity--which can be the enemy of creativity and innovation, and which is boring by definition. Is that what we--or our students--want? We can eliminate inconsistency and incompatibility without folding our rich regional culture and identities into a uniformly bland compromise. If National would serve--as originally planned--to encourage communication and sharing and collaboration between the Divisions, rather than trying to compete with the Divisions by creating its own models and agenda and compelling the Divisions to comply with them, I think that the lofty goal of national identity and consistency would be better served--ironically. It has worked in the past. And it is the American Way!
Food for thought, at least?