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A question for PSIA instructors

post #1 of 79
Thread Starter 
How does this statement make you feel?

PSIA and AASI support ski area management through research and development of instructional programs in alpine and Nordic skiing, snowboarding, adaptive skiing, and children's skiing.
post #2 of 79
VB

I would rather see PSIA/AASI support its members.

yd
post #3 of 79
Is this a trick question?



I guess my answer depends on who is saying it, and what the context is. In one sense, I agree that we do offer support to ski area management, among many other factions.

But in some contexts, that statement would concern me deeply. If it were the "mission statement" of the organization (it isn't, unless something has changed that I'm not aware of), I would argue that it has its priorities wrong. PSIA/AASI was formed, like most professional associations, primarily to support its members educationally, personally, and professionally. I do not pay my dues to PSIA so it can support ski area management, at least not directly. It is a membership-driven organization, and its primary allegience must be to its members. By supporting its members, it supports the profession of ski instruction, which in turn supports students, ski schools, resorts, and the entire industry. All benefit, but there should be no question about the direct allegiance of the member-driven and member-supported organization.

Why do you ask, Vailboarder? And what is the origin of that statement?

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #4 of 79
I am also very interested in the answer to Bob's question cause that statement just scares me shitless

yd
post #5 of 79
This could get interesting!

I agree that as long as "the profession" has pay scales in place that are...... as they are, PSIA better distance itself from "management".
post #6 of 79

Nervous, proud and grateful

VB,

The statement makes me feel nervous. Out of context, one can add implications to the statement that go beyond intent. The context of this quote is from a May 3, 2004 press release announcing the new demo teams. The quote describes one very important function of PSIA/AASI that the demo teams have a very active role in supporting. One might argue that someone could have put a little more effort into the phrasing of this part of this part of the press release, but considering that this came from the traditionally boring "about the organization" blather portion of the press release this is really picking nits.

The quote does not describe the highest priority function of PSIA/AASI. It is interesting to note that the current mission and vision statements on the PSIA/AASI web site make no specific mention of supporting ski area management. The vision statement does make a broad generalization:






Quote:
We support the snowsports industry
PSIA/AASI has been quite consistently clear that the organization serves its members and supports snowsports in general.





But lets go back to the specific quote. It is slightly misleading. PSIA/AASI's R&D role does not directly support area management. To the extent PSIA/AASI educational materials become part of a resort ski school training program, they help to reduce costs and increase quality of ski schools and promotes the overall health of the sport. This indirectly supports area management. But this is a byproduct of the primary purpose of the R&D activity, to whit I continue the previous quote from the vision statement:





Quote:
by encouraging our members to:


Develop personally and professionally
Quote:



I personally feel proud and grateful that PSIA/AASI "research and development of instructional programs" that help myself and my fellow members develop personally and professionally. But I'm still a little nervous as to why the statement is attracting so much attention.



(bold print is unintentional, this is as clean as I could edit it with the quotes in it)
post #7 of 79
Thread Starter 
Wow I thought my eyes were getting stronger as I was reading. Here is the whole thing. It comes from a press release by PSIA/AASI about the swany glove deal on Transworld site.

Based in Lakewood, CO, PSIA and AASI are educational organizations of the nonprofit American Snowsports Education Association (ASEA) with a combined membership of more than 29,000 members who are dedicated to promoting snowsports through instruction. The organizations establish certification standards for ski and snowboard instructors and develop education materials to be used as the core components of most ski and snowboard school training. PSIA and AASI support ski area management through research and development of instructional programs in alpine and Nordic skiing, snowboarding, adaptive skiing, and children's skiing.


Rusty is correct about the teams press release. It seems as though it may be a standard last line for all press releases. And I would agree that it could probably be worded a little better.
post #8 of 79
Thread Starter 
So here is another question. What do you think about the fact that many of the people who sit on the national BoD of PSIA are directors and managers for ski schools? Should they be allowed to sit in these positions of an instructors association?
I appreciate and respect all of your comments. I don't post here often, but I knew I could count on you all to help me through this.
post #9 of 79
Hi Vailboarder. I'm glad to see you're still looking out for the dues payers.

Here's another question: how many on the board pay dues?
post #10 of 79
I think that national board members should come from the ranks of those actively involved in teaching skiing rather than those who have moved over to the management side. There is a conflict of intrest otherwise.

yd
post #11 of 79
Thread Starter 
Hey Nolo, good question. I know I do.
ydnar, you are a smart man.
post #12 of 79
Quote:
Based in Lakewood, CO, PSIA and AASI are educational organizations of the nonprofit American Snowsports Education Association (ASEA) with a combined membership of more than 29,000 members who are dedicated to promoting snowsports through instruction. The organizations establish certification standards for ski and snowboard instructors and develop education materials to be used as the core components of most ski and snowboard school training. PSIA and AASI support ski area management through research and development of instructional programs in alpine and Nordic skiing, snowboarding, adaptive skiing, and children's skiing.
This kind of wording is indicative of the actual practice and not the true mission statement. Many of the PSIA staff in Central are also in positions of managment. I think this directly leads to press releases of this type. These managment people run to improve ski schools and the bottom line. In their mind, everyone wins because the SS and resorts are strong. They see themselves as saving our jobs though resorts managing to stay open.

We elect these managment people because they are authority figures and are respected. Many ski instructors are just kids or newbies and just blindly vote. Educating these ski instructors always seems to get back to the managment person who is running. That puts a damper on actively trying to change the system. The fox is already running the hen house.

They mean well but you get press releases just like the one here that belies their true mission. Its unlikely to change or get worse in the near future. PSIA/AASI is institutionalized.
post #13 of 79
Well I've certainly kept no secrets on my views of psia as a whole. The only thing that keeps me from turning away is the individual qualities of the people I know who are personaly involved in our division. I have great respect for them, but how these individuals personal attributes transfer over to the conduct of national is hard for this member to see. Always has been.

I share YD's concerns and think Pierre hit the nail on the head pretty much. The reciprocity comes with the implied coercion to join psia from ski schools.

I've alway felt that ski school membership should come at a higher cost and responsibilities and that ski schools should be evaluated just like memeber candidates and recieve graded levels of achievment. Later, RicB.
post #14 of 79
Quote:
I've alway felt that ski school membership should come at a higher cost and responsibilities and that ski schools should be evaluated just like memeber candidates and recieve graded levels of achievment.
I love this idea, it's so subversive.
post #15 of 79
Agree!
post #16 of 79

uhoh

Why do I get the feeling that someone has screamed fire on crowded forum?

One must consider that PSIA board members do not serve for the huge salary that is offered and that PSIA board membership does not confer riches or greatness upons one's ski school. Consider also that to become a board member one pretty much has to have had a lifelong passion for the sport and significant prior experience contributing to PSIA. I think it would be surprising if there was no ski school management on the board of directors and sad if promotion into management prohibited one from serving the organization.

I seem to recall that PSIA-E recently changed its bylaws regarding the amount of management participation allowed in elected positions. Note that they did not eliminate all management participation.

If you feel strongly about this issue:
1) Get involved in PSIA activities
2) Change the bylaws
3) Vote
4) Run for office
post #17 of 79
I just get a kick out of my local area and the year in year out cry for an instructors union (although its mainly sarchastic).

I agree with Rusty, the only way things change is by people getting involved. And its sad to say but too often people complain, but then never take action.

And yes I'm a dues payer too.
post #18 of 79
Quote:
How many on the board pay dues?
Oohh--good question, Nolo!

I also agree wholeheartedly with RicB's assertion that we (PSIA) should establish much great requirements for member schools. I mean MUCH greater! I will venture to say that the majority of instruction that takes place on the nation's ski slopes under the guise of "PSIA/AASI Member School" does not even come close to representing PSIA/AASI's philosophy, teaching methodology, or technical models. How could it? Many of those instructors aren't even members of PSIA, much less trained by PSIA, much less certified, much less Full certified, much less CURRENT! Yet their substandard teaching reflects on the organization, and it reflects on me. A PSIA shield above the ski school desk is absolutely no assurance that the lesson you'll get has anything whatsoever to do with PSIA. And that is ridiculous!

Personally, I would favor complete housecleaning and restructuring of the organization, from the top down, to return it to its roots of supporting its members, first, and only through that, supporting the industry. Yes, the organization gets a fair amount of support from various sponsors, and we must not forget that we have a loyalty to those sponsors too. But at the moment, I get the impression that our national executives and directors are much more focused on marketing the organization to sponsors than to skiers. And I believe that skiers--students--are the ones who really pay our wages. Students demanding PSIA/AASI lessons are the key to instructors' professional success. Not Subarus for the Executive officers!

Unfortunately, I am not surprised that whoever wrote that statement was so careless and callous about the priorities it implies.

Thanks, Vailboarder, for bringing this up. I know that you can do something with this information. Don't let up--give 'em both barrels!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #19 of 79
Thread Starter 
Wow, This is great stuff.

I took a look at all the BoD members profiles on the website and it appears Allard is the only one that is a lifetime member. Thus he does not pay dues.

I have never thought of or suggested creating standards for the member schools. That is a very interesting idea. When I have suggested raising dues for member schools, people are usually concerned about making them angry and they won't give us tickets anymore. The fact that clinic participants get free tickets does help keep costs down.

I hope people don't think I am complaining here. I have gotten involved and I am trying to create some change. Bob, you are correct in saying I will be able to do something with this information. And I would gladly give up my Subaru for students demanding PSIA certified instructors. I would even be willing to pay more dues if people were walking in the door asking for me. I don't need a union. I need a marketing firm. I just heard Vail will be charging $560 a day for my services this winter. Unbelievable.
post #20 of 79
Fantastic discussion!

As a card carrying, dues paying member, I'll throw a little ice water on this warm and fuzzy "let's make it harder" outcry....

If your ski school was banned/barred from putting the PSIA logo on display, and lost it's membership, how do you think it would affect the number of students that take lessons at your ski area?

I think that this is one of those cold realities, much like the "wages" that we get paid as ski instructors.

I would guesstimate that our little suburban DC/Baltimore ski area would lose approximately... hmm, let me think..... um... ZERO percent of it's business if it were not a PSIA/AASI school. Then, the other local ski areas would say "look! They don't have to pay to be a member school, and they didn't lose any of their business. I guess we should stop paying to be a member school also." It's a slippery slope from there.

Afterall, when was the last time you saw an ad at your local ski area that said "ask for a certified ski instructor"? Even PSIA won't run an ad in the ski rags that promotes taking lessons with cert instructors and describes the benefits of asking for the highest cert possible. Why? Because it would pi$$ off the ski area management because they wouldn't be able to fill the demand, and lessons would walk.

I'm not gonna look the gift horse in the mouth quite yet. I'll just be glad the ski areas are still willing to advertise that they are a member school.

If word got out that PSIA was going to hike the standards, I have the feeling the organization might not be long for this world. Of course, on the optimistic side, if the ski areas did let it drop, and PSIA became solely a member sponsored organization with no ties at all to SAM, maybe they would actually start promoting us better.

Just my lousy pessimistic view of the world we live in.:

What's your take Nolo?

Where's my Zoloft?
post #21 of 79

Thanks...

...VailBoarder, for your attention to detail--and for your vigilance representing PSIA/AASI members divisionally and nationally.

As it is worded, the tag line in the release misses (by miles) an opportunity to promote lessons with certified pros. One wonders how many other similarly worded releases have hit the streets--and how many PR opportunities we've missed.

I appreciate your bringing this to the attention of the Nat'l Board and members through this forum. I'm hoping that your efforts will result in a reworded tag line for all future releases--at least for those that target the general public.



FWIW, Vail is charging $560/day for regular-season private lessons this year, not $640.

Thanks again. You do good work.

Cheers,
B-2
post #22 of 79
Thread Starter 
B2, your welcome and thank you for your support. I don't know why I typed $640. Pretty gusty posting a snowboard picture here. Don't make the natives too mad. HA
post #23 of 79
Hey, I like boarders, I even rode one once. A board that is.



John, maybe it doesn't mean anything "because" it doesn't mean anything. Who knows what it "Could Mean", if it was actually tied to a standard or level of quality. I couldn't see it meaning anything less than it does right now.
post #24 of 79
JohnH,

I don't pay dues, so I try to keep quiet except to say "hear-hear" when someone suggests something that I think could help out the team.

That said, I will make an observation. Did you know PSIA is 40 years old this year? That's middle age. To prevent the inevitable decline, PSIA needs young blood.
post #25 of 79
John H brings up a good point. One big issue that the association is dropping the ball on is the benefits it's members bring to the snowsport world. I have been teaching for almost twenty years and every year I explain to several guest a season about certification and the different levels.

THE PUBLIC DOES NOT KNOW ABOUT CERTIFICATION AND THE PRODUCTS THAT SKI SCHOOLS OFFER.

The true products ski schools offer are the individual instructors, not Privates, Classes, Racing, Season Long Programs, etc. If they promoted the instructors with certification and other training the public would get a better idea on the quality of instruction and the training that is really out there.
post #26 of 79
Quote:
PSIA is 40 years old this year? That's middle age.
What do you mean "middle age"?? I'M older than that! Oh, wait....



Seriously, I'm not sure the problem with PSIA is "middle age," but I believe that the priorities of the organization have been somewhat misplaced for a very long time. JohnH is right--because there is so little awareness, even, much less demand, from the public, that PSIA shield over the Ski School desk is not worth much to the resort.

But it is a very vicious circle, isn't it? Because the public doesn't demand PSIA, resorts have little incentive to pay for PSIA-certified instructors (especially Full-Certified). So the average quality of lessons that occur under the PSIA banner is mediocre or worse, further degrading the value of PSIA membership.

We have to enter that circle somewhere, and start pushing it the other way. We can't, as JohnH points out, just raise the cost (monetarily and otherwise) of PSIA membership (for ski schools), because they don't value it that much, largely because the resorts themselves have devalued it! If the public demanded PSIA, resorts WOULD value membership more. That would take some real promotion. But before we can promote, we have to make sure that the quality of the product really is what it should be. And it should be high enough that, once students receive a lesson from a "real" PSIA instructor, they can't wait for more--and they'll ask for another PSIA instructor.

THEN we will be able to demand higher standards and set higher requirements for PSIA-member schools.

Who will benefit? EVERYONE! Students will get better lessons, so they'll enjoy the sport more. And ski more. And take more lessons. Resorts would make more money. Instructors would get paid more (good ones, anyway.) There would be more incentive for instructors to get certified. Lessons would improve. Students would get better lessons, so they'll enjoy the sport more...! That's the direction the snowball SHOULD roll!

Most of these ideas have come up before, over the years here at EpicSki. The ski industry has very much shot itself in the foot by thinking that "cheap labor"--hiring low-paid but substandard instructors--makes good economic sense in the long run.

Ironically, I think that much of the devaluing of the PSIA shield is the result of resorts thinking that it HAD value! Wanting to claim more "PSIA-Certified" instructors on their staffs, they pressured PSIA to change its certification policy. (Don't think there was pressure? Remember that some of "them" are the board members and decision makers of PSIA.) Remember when there were just two levels--"Associate," and "Certified"? There weren't that many "Certified Instructors," because it represented a very high level of experience, training, talent, and commitment. To create more "certified" instructors, PSIA added "Level 1," and more significantly, called all three levels "certified." Without improving training or changing the reality one bit, suddenly there were a LOT more "certified" instructors around. And most of them, by definition, were far less competent than the certified instructors of before. In one swift stroke, one simple shift of terminology, PSIA allowed itself to lower the standard of "certifed instructor" an extraordinary amount.

It's one of the biggest mistakes PSIA has ever made, in my opinion.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #27 of 79
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by skimc2
The true products ski schools offer are the individual instructors, not Privates, Classes, Racing, Season Long Programs, etc. If they promoted the instructors with certification and other training the public would get a better idea on the quality of instruction and the training that is really out there.
I like that a lot.
post #28 of 79
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes/Colorado
If the public demanded PSIA, resorts WOULD value membership more. That would take some real promotion. But before we can promote, we have to make sure that the quality of the product really is what it should be. And it should be high enough that, once students receive a lesson from a "real" PSIA instructor, they can't wait for more--and they'll ask for another PSIA instructor.

THEN we will be able to demand higher standards and set higher requirements for PSIA-member schools.

Who will benefit? EVERYONE! Students will get better lessons, so they'll enjoy the sport more. And ski more. And take more lessons. Resorts would make more money. Instructors would get paid more (good ones, anyway.) There would be more incentive for instructors to get certified. Lessons would improve. Students would get better lessons, so they'll enjoy the sport more...! That's the direction the snowball SHOULD roll!

Most of these ideas have come up before, over the years here at EpicSki. The ski industry has very much shot itself in the foot by thinking that "cheap labor"--hiring low-paid but substandard instructors--makes good economic sense in the long run.

Ironically, I think that much of the devaluing of the PSIA shield is the result of resorts thinking that it HAD value! Wanting to claim more "PSIA-Certified" instructors on their staffs, they pressured PSIA to change its certification policy. Remember when there were just two levels--"Associate," and "Certified"? There weren't that many "Certified Instructors," because it represented a very high level of experience, training, talent, and commitment. To create more "certified" instructors, PSIA added "Level 1," and more significantly, called all three levels "certified." Without improving training or changing the reality one bit, suddenly there were a LOT more "certified" instructors around. And most of them, by definition, were far less competent than the certified instructors of before. In one swift stroke, one simple shift of terminology, PSIA allowed itself to lower the standard of "certifed instructor" an extraordinary amount.

It's one of the biggest mistakes PSIA has ever made, in my opinion.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
I was just telling a friend yesterday that same theory about the changing of the names for certification. The national fall meeting takes place this weekend (Oct.9). If anyone is in the area and wants to attend let me know. Any interest Bob?
post #29 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes/Colorado
But before we can promote, we have to make sure that the quality of the product really is what it should be. And it should be high enough that, once students receive a lesson from a "real" PSIA instructor, they can't wait for more--and they'll ask for another PSIA instructor.
Unfortunately, this is the ultimate definition of a Catch 22.

The bulk of the ski instructors aren't willing to commit themselves to attaining that level, because the incentive isn't there.

So the holy grail would be to answer the question of how to get the cycle started.

Pizza's here!
post #30 of 79

Certification names

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes/Colorado
Ironically, I think that much of the devaluing of the PSIA shield is the result of resorts thinking that it HAD value! Wanting to claim more "PSIA-Certified" instructors on their staffs, they pressured PSIA to change its certification policy. (Don't think there was pressure? Remember that some of "them" are the board members and decision makers of PSIA.) Remember when there were just two levels--"Associate," and "Certified"? There weren't that many "Certified Instructors," because it represented a very high level of experience, training, talent, and commitment. To create more "certified" instructors, PSIA added "Level 1," and more significantly, called all three levels "certified." Without improving training or changing the reality one bit, suddenly there were a LOT more "certified" instructors around. And most of them, by definition, were far less competent than the certified instructors of before. In one swift stroke, one simple shift of terminology, PSIA allowed itself to lower the standard of "certifed instructor" an extraordinary amount.

It's one of the biggest mistakes PSIA has ever made, in my opinion.
I was amazed last year to learn how easy it was to be a level I cert. While most instructors think nothing of a level I cert, level I's still get a pin and a higher pay scale than non-certs. And the public doesn't know the difference.

While I agree that it makes sense to consider the nomenclature used for differing levels of experience and knowledge, how do you handle the new instructor who is quite skilled versus the curmudgeon instructor who just does what he's done for the past 20 years? I have found this at all cert levels, btw, up to and including some examiners. I've been amazed at how so many are so unwilling to learn and grow and change. And how many believe that they know all that there is to know about the sport.

The good news for me (lowly level I cert that I am) is that I know that there is so much that I don't know!

BTW, how would it work to grow new instructors? People like me have so little time to teach due to the requirement to carry a full-time job or other method of earning an income. If there was a way to raise the income of the instructors to the level of a real profession (defined as sufficient to support a family), then this would draw new, serious instructors into the fold. As it is, it seems to often be a way to score a lift ticket and maybe some gear for many.
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