What is the difference between accreditations (e.g. Children's specialist) and "deep knowledge"?
Let's see, we have "children's specialist", "freestyle", "backcountry", then Eastern has "Master Teacher" and ... oh wait look what I found!
Quote: (from the PSIA strategic education plan)
PSIA-AASI divisions have created “certifications” beyond those reviewed and approved by the PSIA-AASI Board of Directors. 20 core credentials are recognized as national awards- Alpine (3), Nordic (9), Snowboard (3), Adaptive (3), Children’s (2). In total, divisions provide at least 73 additional “certification” awards beyond the base 20.
(ok - so this quote treats all specialist/accreditations as a "certification")
73? Yikes! How many of these are unneeded or irrelevant?
The simple answer is "all of them" are unneeded. Nobody needs an "additional" cert beyond the "base" 3 in each discipline (haven't figured out Nordic beyond track vs telemark). Heck, nobody really needs any of the "base" certs either. Anyone can be a great snow sports instructor without bothering with any kind of certification.
The simple answer is "none of them" are irrelevant. If you look at a certification process as a road map to achievement of skill and an acquisition of knowledge, then all of these additional certifications are simply aids for achieving deep knowledge. Each of the 1-3 basic certs cover teaching children to some degree. Can anyone argue that all of the material and skills covered in the children's specialist programs is already covered in the basic 1-3 level certs? If not, can anyone argue that the "extra" material and skills won't make a pro more effective when teaching children? Now, the one area of irrelevancy that is a valid complaint is that a pro may not ever teach children. The counter argument here is that just like never teaching first timers, maybe you should be or at least be able to because these types of lessons represent a significant percentage of lessons taught. Certifications like back country and freestyle represent a small portion of lessons taught and are certainly irrelevant for a large percentage of instructors. But they are not irrelevant to the organization because there is some lesson demand requiring these skills. The same concept applies to fringe certs like sports science and special populations. All of these certifications exist and continue to exist because there is demand for them. But not all of them make sense. Should we substitute AMGA certs for PSIA backcountry certs? The strategic education plan acknowledges and address this issue.
73 certs can certainly be reduced, but the focus is to reduce through standardization or substitution versus elimination. The intent of these other certs has always been to encourage going wide and deep. The intent of the base certs has always been to test for wide and shallow to enable going wider and deeper. Every cert exam I've prepped for has had a reading list that was thinly covered on written exams. The exams sample one's abilities as opposed to comprehensively test them. The top level cert has always been intended as a starting point for further development (e.g. "now you are ready to learn to ski").
Although the changes in the Eastern division for requiring CS accreditation as part of the basic exam process have piqued my interest in the CS2 accreditation, I don't spend enough teaching time in this area to justify the expense of getting the accreditation after I've already achieved my cert. But I have been looking at the CS2 materials to identify gaps that I can work on. One can use the "road maps" without bothering to take the tests.
So, personally, I don't get that bent out of shape about the difference between irrelevant and unneeded certs and deep knowledge. Deep knowledge is not needed, but it can be valuable. Certifications can assist the process of acquiring deep knowledge. If you disagree, don't partake. If the system is rigged where you work, there are always alternative work locations. If it's easier to game the system than move, then it probably isn't worth griping about a lot.