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Should PSIA Examiners be required to re-qualify every couple of seasons?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
In many organizations, the group which is the most resistant to change, is the small group of individuals which lead the organization!

Is it possible that this is true with several divisions of PSIA?

There are many examiners and educators at the divisional levels who have been in those roles for decades, without ever having to re-qualify.

While I'm sure that the majority continue to upgrade their skills, there are those who have not. This becomes a sore point to other examiners and candidates. But due to the existence of "the good ole boys club", rarely does an examiner get censured or more.

I am not denying that some of these less-than- contemporary examiners can still play an active role in a conceptual sense. Their background knowledge may be way ahead of their physical skills.

So- the question-.

"Should PSIA Examiners be required to re-qualify every couple of seasons?"

This one may stir the pot up a little!

post #2 of 23
post #3 of 23
Well, VSP, of course you know that, at least in the Rocky Mountain Division, there IS a re-verification program designed to keep the examining staff current and consistent. It wasn't met with universal approval when introduced a couple years ago. For reasons you brought up, we EXPECTED some resistance. And as a fairly new program, barely through its first two-year cycle, it is not perfect.

But the results have been great, in my opinion. The verification process, which in a two-year cycle runs every examiner through each of the skiing tasks on each level of the exams, had pretty much the desired results. Some of the staff that hadn't kept up with the evolution in technique and thinking, or whose skills had waned, became inspired to bring their levels up. A few recognized that perhaps the time had finally come for them to bow out gracefully and accept emeritus status--no dishonor in that! Weaknesses were exposed, and pretty much everyone discovered areas that needed work in order to bring the whole group to a higher level of consistency.

This process, in addition to the required annual Fall Training that the entire Ed. Staff must participate in (at their own expense), has gone a long ways to minimize the "old boys' club" syndrome that you described.

The Alpine Committee will revisit the Re-Verification process again this summer, now that the first two-year cycle has ended. We'll try to make it even more valid and valuable.

The answer to your question is obvious, is it not? Because it's a job, we MUST make sure that everyone performs to a certain standard. The membership simply will not stand--and has not stood--for anything less. So our Rocky Mountain Alpine Committee, under the direction of the new chair, will do its best to continue to improve the education and examining process in our division.

Remember too that there have always been a few other checks and balances in the system. One of the other jobs of the Alpine Committee over the summer is to review and act upon all the feedback from the membership regarding clinics, exams, procedures, and personnel. From clinician and examiner feedback sheets, to complaint letters, documented problems that arise are discussed and solutions are implemented. It is NOT actually that rare that an examiner or clinician gets censured. Individuals have been warned, demoted, suspended, or moved to permanent inactive or emeritus status, on several occasions that I'm aware of in the past few years, for a variety of legitimate reasons.

The perception of the "Good Ole Boys Club" is far from reality, however common it may be. Yet perceptions persist, and take on a reality of their own despite the truth. In fact though, what is most resistant to change is NOT so often the small group of leaders--which in our case changes frequently--but the tired, unsupported perceptions of the members who have not kept up with what is going on at the TOP of the organization! Unverified assumptions and fabricated illusions are dangerous things to base actions upon!

Indeed, I think that the leadership of the Rocky Mountain Division is EXTREMELY interested in change for the better. It has put in an enormous amount of (uncompensated, financially) time and effort to that end. One of the biggest challenges the leadership faces is the resistance to new ideas that the MEMBERSHIP demonstrates. New programs and new models must be introduced circumspectly, sometimes more gradually than I'd prefer, and sometimes with a sugar coating, lest we suffer the backlash of the membership. It is all too easy for ANY change to be viewed as a "reinvention of the wheel."

Of course, it is the balance of these forces that helps keep the organization on track, ties the past to the future, promotes necessary evolution while preventing unneeded change for its own sake, and keeps everyone honest.

I've drifted a bit from your original topic, VSP, but the issues are related. Yes, of course, the skills of the examiner/clinician staff must be current and consistent. The customer--the membership of PSIA--has no interest in a product that has little perceived value. It is no different from the situation of ski schools in general, which must provide a consistent product that people value if they expect to grow their business!

We can all do better!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

[ May 18, 2002, 11:58 PM: Message edited by: Bob Barnes/Colorado ]
post #4 of 23
Absolutely. I'm a big believer in this, and as Bob says, the reverification program was inspired. It was hard. I was graded on a very high standard to re-verify my abilities. The other part that Bob didn't mention is the auditing program. For example, I sat in on the exam's of two examiners on my own time this spring in order to test my own judgement and understanding as well as to observe theirs. It was terrific, and from it I found out that my thinking was pretty much independent from while being consistent with theirs.

I know that the new cert/ed boss, Jerry Berg, is a big advocate of standard maintenance and I feel that this will continue and improve.

Again, as I said in an earlier post, if I can't make the grade any longer due to decrepitude and senility, it's okay to shoot me!

Not yet, VSP!
post #5 of 23
VSP, in the LM thread on "expressway to professionalism", you mention the exam that Annie and I took. I went to that with the intention of either passing with all 8's (our of 10) or better. If I couldn't pull that, I should resign, because it wouldn't be fair to the candidates.

But more importantly, I wanted to experience the exam from the point of view of the candidates. I had a lot of fun doing it. I slept on the floor of a friend, got confused about where and when to meet, forgot my lift ticket!!, and got butterflies. It was cool. I was sorry that others didn't try it. But I'm pleased with the new system as well.

In the same thread, Nolo talks about "smart person's learning disabilities". I love that concept and see it a lot. We've created in Aspen a series of clinics that combine our trainers "passport signoff" clinics with what we called the "black hole" clinics (from the idea that level 3's drop into a black hole of non-training after their exam). We call it "beyond level 3" and it is a huge success. Our level 3 guys realize that they have access to giants and take advantage of it. These also tend to inspire some of the reluctant ones to join in.

Our goal is pertinent to your thought: no more 1975 turns taught at 2002 prices.

I think we're turning the corner on this. But we must do it respectfully. Again, the old timers will come along if they are acknowledged for their very real contributions.

[ May 19, 2002, 05:49 AM: Message edited by: weems ]
post #6 of 23
I hope I don't get anyone angry with this, but you've just described why its sometimes more exciting to take a lesson from a Level 2 who is ACTIVELY pursuing Level 3, than a Level 3 who has fallen into a Black Hole, and believes they have nothing more to learn.
post #7 of 23
Tenure has no place in education. That being said, gold should not be "re-earned" no matter when you "arrived", just kept in context of the era achieved. Continuing ed (excluding emeritus) is mandatory but should be more than jewelery polishing.
In a world on manufactured "centerline clones" it is always a hoot to go out with a living fossil for "historical perspective".....Reverse shoulder, anyone? Are Gustavo Thoeni's medals less impressive because they were achieved on straight Spauldings around bamboo? CONTEXT!
I love working with our trainers to develop an appreciation of where we have been and how we evolved...down up down is still a bitch...up-stems still fun, wedeln....well, check out Ott!
post #8 of 23
I’m wondering, are the re-qualifications technical in nature? If so, does this mean the person concerned is being examined as a teacher? I’ve met some people in various fields (including ski instruction) who were technically very good, but lousy at teaching.

Just a thought.


post #9 of 23
I think Pete raises an important point. Why would we limit the evaluation to skiing maneuvers?
post #10 of 23
VSP- In the East we have lightly discussed the idea and I am glad RM is doing it sounds like something we could steal! We do encourage to understudy every year which helps you both when you are understuding and when you are being understudied. I firmly believe this should be a requirement. I also would not mind being required to take (as a participant) a clinic every 2 years as we require the membership. This is done in many other professional organizations. Were just because you are a presenter it does not waive your update requirements. I also think the membership would both like the idea and be well served by it.
post #11 of 23
Nolo, Pete, isn't the teaching success measurement done through the participant reports from every event an examiner/demo team member leads?
post #12 of 23
We have feedback forms available, but not all bother to fill them out. The feedback requested is of such a general nature, that all you tend to get is this person really hated me and these folks loved me.

I guess I wonder what the message is when we stipulate a skiing re-evaluation and not an equivalent workup on teaching skills.

Frankly, I don't think we have figured out how to evaluate teaching in exams. We have figured out how to train people to get a good teaching grade, but replication of a model and real time teaching are two different things. It's a bit like giving a grade in poetry on the ability to memorize a poem and not on the ability to write one.
post #13 of 23
You all point to the glaring problem (thanks Pete). The re-up is about skiing, not about clinic or exam delivery. This is really an area we need to work on. Not only for consistency, but also for just plain effectiveness. We have a new cert boss, and I'm going to start pushing in that direction.
post #14 of 23
In the NW we do have to. Every 2 years Divisional the divisional staff has to undergo re-evaluation. It started about 4 seasons ago, and many long-time staff members were cut. It really opened some eyes (and pissed some people off) I think it is a good thing...very good.
post #15 of 23
Um, who examines the examiners?!

I have mixed feelings about examiners having to be able to do all the maneuvers...here in Oz, the full cert exam demands that you be able to do ANY skiing maneuver, anytime, any terrain, and I'd expect the US level III to be the same.

I really would be unhappy to learn of a wise and skilled examiner having to step down simply because they couldn't do bumps on one leg (a potential task for us here) or do Corbett's, due to the fact that they were 60.

I'd hope that a happy medium could be reached whereby the examiners' knowledge and skiing were current, without having to be 'better' than the candidates.

skiing's funny like that, it's a sport where the coaches are expected to be better at the activity than the coached.

This 'emeritus' status is sounding a bit ominous! If you lot aren't careful, it could go from being an honour, to a stigma that everyone wants to avoid!
post #16 of 23
Yes that’s very true Ant. One of my best instructors was a guy called Tony Rice (as I recall, it was some years back) from Cardrona in NZ. Now I think even Tony would confess to being no spring chicken and although this was some time ago I recall 2 things very well. He seemed to take a personal interest in me as an individual by suggesting I come up and watch the world cup training in the mornings, and gave me details of who to see etc. The second thing was that he was a very good TEACHER. Could he “ski”? Probably, I never really got to see, but who cares. Most decent athletes can easily outperform their coaches, so does that mean they aren’t good coaches?

It seems to me that an evaluation of any teacher should focus on their ability to do their job, that is, to teach. A high school maths teacher isn’t examined on their ability to perform highest level mathematics, instead a thorough understanding of what they are teaching. Surely the logical evaluation of a ski instructor is to watch how well they teach a class/student at their appropriate level. Sure this includes an ability to perform technically at that level or slightly above, but that should only be a portion of the evaluation.

Personally I would be quite happy taking a lesson from a “coach” who did a little less of “Watch this” and a little more of “You’re doing that”.

Just my 2 cents worth.
post #17 of 23
In the eastern division,all alpine exams above level 2 are in two parts in which the skiing portion must be passed first before you can even take the teaching/tech. This prefilters the teaching pool and lowers the level of competiton and learning in that part of the exam. The brilliant skier doesnt get to learn from the brilliant teacher.
I have taken a lot of PSIA clinics the skiing skills are consitently high. The teaching skills vary from exelent to poor. I have friends who have gone to development team exams. All were very good skiers and had realistic chances. Some made it, some did not. Based on my personel knoledge of their skills, teaching skill were not a big part of the selection process.
post #18 of 23
Originally posted by Pete:
Personally I would be quite happy taking a lesson from a “coach” who did a little less of “Watch this” and a little more of “You’re doing that”.

Yep have to agree with that. I have fairly high level instrustors - but rarely get to see them ski at their level. In general they will ski in good form - but well within my ability range.
They spend a lot more time telling me what I am doing & why it is causing me grief than showing me what to do. Then we work on HOW to remedy the situation & get better performance.
post #19 of 23
I've always favored some form of objective perodical re-evaluation of Ed Staffers "current"skill set once they attain the Examiner level. Feedback from our members is that they expect that the Examiners should be pushing their learning curve just as hard as the members they evaluate. The members have a perception that a few Ed Staffers may not be as comitted as most to a continued effort to stay abreast of the leading edge of change. It only takes a few "coasting" in their out of date comfort zone to tarnish, and impede, the efforts of the majority who continure to learn and grow and improve the quality of the product they represent. Really well prepared, up-to-date Level-III candidates find it frustrating to have to "throttle back" their presentation so as not to exceed, or conflict with an Examiners clearly out of date perspective of how things do, can, could, should or even might work that are currently valid in a modern view skiing.

I don't think of a role model as only being able to represent how we 'used to ski' (but expect that they could if asked to).

[ May 28, 2002, 08:09 PM: Message edited by: Arcmeister ]
post #20 of 23
Bang on target, "Arc"!
post #21 of 23
Faith restored. Excellent topic.

I think I need to step up and get drilled more.

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #22 of 23
Thread Starter 

That's the ticket! Very well presented!

I absolutely agree with your premise.

post #23 of 23
In another forum, an Oz man mentioned that for his Oz Level III to stay valid, he had to be re-evaluated every few years.
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