|At the same time, though, please take your STUDENTS seriously.
You've nailed it, Oboe! As a professional, any good instructor LOVES to ski. He/she understands the notion of SERIOUS fun. He knows the difference between doing it and talking about it. Few skiers can cut loose and express joy with their skis and their bodies like good instructors on the loose. (Note that, as always, I use the word "good" intentionally, and quite restrictively!) The good instructor skis for fun. And because he knows how much fun it can be, he takes YOUR skiing and fun extremely seriously.
Yeah, it's just a sport, just a good time, just a hoot on the hill, a few hours of excitement--not rocket science or world peace. But personally, I know no other way to impact a person's life for the better as effectively as I can with skis. Beyond the momentary smiles of joy, I've seen skiing turn people's low self-esteem completely around. I've seen them discover a "self" they never knew, simply by discovering that they were capable of learning to ski better than they expected. I've seen families come together through skiing. I've seen people get in shape through skiing. I've seen people meet their future spouses through skiing. What better way to encourage "world peace" than to help people feel good about themselves?
You pay good money to ski instructors (well, to ski schools at least--that's another story), and you should DEMAND that the instructor take your goals and expectations seriously. When you see or hear instructors talking in detail about how to help a beginner or intermediate skier make a better turn, you should THANK them--remember--your better turn is hardly important to THEIR enjoyment of the sport! They are taking time out of their own fun, to take YOUR fun seriously.
Altagirl--I hope you will end that fifteen year absence from ski lessons. I GUARANTEE you that a good (there's that word again) instructor can help you get more out of the sport, can help you enjoy even more the things that YOU take seriously--whatever they may be. No one will argue against your observation that not all instructors are "good"--but many are, and there are ways to find them. Furthermore, there is little risk--if you aren't satisfied--better, THRILLED--with your lesson (and you tell them), virtually any ski school will give you another one, or refund your money. And if they give you another one, you can be pretty sure that the supervisor will find an instructor certain to please--they know who they are.
Finally, the things instructors argue about--stance width, for example--are often WORTH arguing about. As Altagirl has noted, no one technique, stance, or style works for everyone in all situations. Where there is a universal, you will find that instructors agree, and their discussions are an attempt to understand. Where we disagree, there is usually truth in both viewpoints. Don't fear the inconsistency--it's part of what makes our sport so interesting!
Serious fun. Is that a contradiction? I hope not!