I have said it before--beyond its admitted marketing potential, "direct parallel" is a false goal that misses the point entirely. Skiing is not about "learning to parallel"--parallel is perhaps the least relevant part of ski technique. Skiing is about MOVEMENTS. Neither a wedge stance nor a parallel stance (they aren't much different!) guarantees good movements, or precludes them. Arguing about whether it is important to use a wedge or a not makes about as much sense as arguing whether blue cars or red cars are faster....
All good skiers are adept with the wedge, braking and otherwise. Even the most adamant "no-wedge" teaching "systems" (ie. PMTS) teach a wedge--even if they call it something else and relegate its use to lift lines.
But good instructors have long recognized that it is movements we teach. Not wedge turns. Not parallel turns. MOVEMENTS! Good instructors recognize that the wedge has uses--and pitfalls--as does "forcing" a parallel stance. Both can allow good movements--or lead to "dead ends." But I think the greatest disservice that this discussion does to skiers is to perpetuate the myth that "parallel" is the sign of an expert. How can it be--when skiers can "parallel" from the start?
Exercises that do not involve a wedge are, and always have been, extremely important in beginner lessons. Stepping, gliding, skating, pushing around with the poles, finding a good neutral stance and learning to enjoy the sensation of gliding--these have ALWAYS been important in ski lessons. I do not know any instructor who believes that anyone needs a wedge to turn, at any level--they need MOVEMENTS.
The perceived "de-emphasis" of the wedge these days is surely a good thing. But actually, the incorrect perception is that there was ever an "emphasis" on the wedge in the first place. It is a tool, with many functions. It is NOT the "foundation" of beginners' turns, even in a progression where it is taught. Successful instructors since I began teaching have always played around a lot with "non-wedge" exercises and gliding for a good while in beginning lessons, before introducing a wedge.
And it has always been a mistake--most instructors have learned this the hard way--to introduce a wedge--especially a braking wedge--too early. Even here, the braking wedge is not the mistake. Putting students in a situation where they NEED a braking wedge from the start is the mistake. Teaching defensive movements can be important, but teaching them from the start can indeed create bad habits that are difficult to break.
Again, the debate over "wedge vs. parallel" entirely misses the point of what is important in learning good ski habits--MOVEMENTS!
While the "instant gratification" promise of "direct parallel" programs has definite marketing appeal, I think that it does a disservice to potential skiers, as I noted above. The reality of Arcmeister's "Pathways to Parallel," Aspen's "Beginners Magic" program, PSIA-RM's "Three Steps to Success," and even PMTS's "Primary Movements," is that they all attempt to develop good foundational movement patterns. And they all "de-emphasize" the wedge--even as they allow it to exist and recognize its uses. That's as it should be. It is unfortunate, though, that some students have been lead to believe that there is something inherently "wrong" about either wedge or parallel, or that somehow "parallel" is some sort of goal, the mark of high achievement. Good turns--that's the mark of achievement. Not "parallel."