Just throwing around words like "diversity is good", and "American Way", and "Innovation", is just another form of dogma.
Well, I believe we've done a bit more than that, in this thread and elsewhere.
These issues are currently at the forefront of heated discussion in PSIA circles, across all of the Divisions and including National. It is the exact debate we've touched on here--between the value of a top-down, centrally driven organization where National is very powerful and the Divisions are subservient to it, and the value of a bottom-up membership driven model, where National has no actual authority or "power" at all, and exists entirely to serve the Divisions and members by facilitating inter-divisional communication and sharing of resources and innovations.
As Tog points out, an absolutely necessary key to the success of the latter (bottom up) model is that the Divisions do communicate, as much as possible, so that innovations that arise anywhere are shared nationwide. Helping with that communication is exactly the role I would love to see National adopt. To be clear, a strong goal of mine through this is to strengthen
the whole organization nationally--not to weaken it--by encouraging innovation at every level and providing clear channels of communication across the Divisions. Consistency--which we all agree can be a good thing (but potentially also a "double-edged sword") comes from communication and consensus. So does innovation and creativity.
I would love to see National become a clearing house for the best resources created across the country, where anyone from any Division could access all the greatest ideas and best practices. As it is now, and has been for some time, National has almost the opposite effect. I think National tends to see Divisionally created materials as competition for their own manuals and educational products, such as they are. National is a separate company,
and although it may be a non-profit organization, it still potentially "competes" with the other nine separate companies that collectively call themselves PSIA. PSIA instructors are members of both their home Division and of National, with separate dues, and separate boards of directors. From my perspective, it appears that the original role of PSIA National to support the Divisions has shifted, and the result is a system that is not currently working very well. Rather than serving as a communication nexus that enhances the flow of information and the sharing of resources for the Divisions, it has become a communication block. Rather than exploiting the contributions and potential of 31,000+ members and nine Divisions, it creates its own "manuals" pretty much in-house and for all practical purposes in isolation, if not secrecy. (And to add insult to injury, the members pay for those manuals to be created partially through their dues--and then have to pay for them again if they want to buy one.)
Meanwhile, on the upside, and largely driven by acknowledgement of these problems, there has been a recent resurgence of inter-Divisional cooperation and communication. Examiner exchanges and multi-Divisional committees to review and identify best practices have accelerated in the past couple years. There is
awareness of the need to get a grip on our National Standards and to address the very problems that have come up in this thread. We have made inroads toward a national written test. And, it is worth noting, these initiatives have been driven almost entirely by the Divisions, from the bottom up, with little involvement--and perhaps even some resistance--so far from National. To me, that cooperation IS National, as it was originally conceived. Change is afoot, and to its credit, the National organization is taking notice and seeking to clarify its role--and ensure its continued relevance--in the grand scheme of things.
This thread began as a discussion of the low (dismally so) pass rate for PSIA Level 3 exams in various places. It is clear that, no matter what else may be happening, our Standard has not eroded, and it is not "too low." In many ways, PSIA, as a whole, and in its parts, continues to do a great job. There are plenty of things to complain about, and everyone has an idea and a vision of what they'd like to see the organization be, and do for them. It's easy to see only the dark side, but in an organization as large and complex as PSIA, there will always be differences of opinion and things that don't work, or that don't work for everybody. The fact is, PSIA is still a vibrant and strong organization--and getting stronger by asking the big questions and striving constantly to reinvent itself where it is needed. Clinic attendance in Rocky Mountain was well up this past season. The ski industry itself has seen drastic changes that greatly affect instructors' livelihood, and every instructor association worldwide that seeks to remain relevant is scrambling to adapt. Upheaval is not just good--it is necessary.
Innovation, by the way, is the enemy of dogma.