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How much do the politics of PSIA, slow down progression of ski teaching...and instructors own skiing? - Page 3

post #61 of 75

SkiRacer55, you hit the nail on the head too.  It does mostly take a lot of hard work and self-belief. 


my story about The GREATEST SKI INSTRUCTOR In the West

and my manual One Good Turn Deserves Another---Heinsian DOWNHILL SKIING about non-denominations skiing and instruction. 

post #62 of 75


Yeah, but most Ski Schools base their pay on not what you can do but what your PSIA hoop-jumping is. 

Then, if your Certification is current, it's because you have to give a big chunk of your earnings to PSIA for dues and clinics if not new exam fees. 

post #63 of 75


Congratulations on your L-3, but it sounds like you got it because you're a part-timer and not a threat to PSIA Examiners. 

Oh, they have to pass a few here and there, like lawyers or news-casters, people they don't want to piss off. 

But, if you're a dedicated full-timer with a whole-life career in mind,

they tend to milk you for all you're worth---my limit was three L-3 failures. 

post #64 of 75

Dakine, well-put:

"the masses entralled by a priesthood" by changing the terminology every few years and so on. 

It's a "Real-Edgious" War with PSIA

post #65 of 75


You are right about a lot of things. 

But the problems with PSIA are similar to our U.S. Gov't---most of the leaders are only in it for themselves. 

I've been challenging them for years, and finally I'm branching out with my books

like . . . One Good Turn Deserves Another---Heinsian DOWNHILL SKIING, which offers students and teachers what they really need, compassion and guidelines.

Under the current Status Quo, the students suffer the most (and they don't always know it), and so do a percentage of good instructors. 

Great ideas don't often come from large groups, ultimately filled with cowards in the end; they usually come from creative Individuals

---and Lonely Are the Brave.

post #66 of 75

MasterMagician, I love you!

We need guys like you to spill the beans. 

Congrats on going back to "Straight Skis," which already have some shape by the way. 

When "Shaped Skis" came along, PSIA found a way to legislate the techniques triple difficult, like focusing too much on inside-ski nonsense

---and I've witnessed students and new instructors on "teaching skis" so short they couldn't stand up. 

Find my e-mail address on Facebook, and I'll send you some free e-books that you can use as ammo to defend yourself. 

It's a "Real-Edgious" War.

post #67 of 75


I love your picture with the old wooden skis and bamboo poles. 

And I was glad to see your comment and your agreement with MasterMagician. 

post #68 of 75

Bob Barnes,

You're a real career PSIA Politician, BB,

in bed with the ski manufacturers and so on.

I'm glad you mentioned the 30,000 PSIA membership, and that way too many instructors only last a year or two. 

That means, over the past couple decades, there's probably tens of thousands disgusted with PSIA and SS Politics---this will be my Army. 

PSIA Examiners wouldn't be caught dead skiing with the general public,

and many of them moan and groan that they have to ski with lowly L-1 Candidates, many of whom know just enough to get their students into trouble. 

So the millions in the skiing public are the ones who suffer,  as well as some fine instructors who run into the smoke-n-mirrors and brick walls of L-2 and L-3.

When I joined PSIA in 1980 and got my Associate-Cert, L-2, I was all proud to be a "Professional Ski Instructor of America," starting a new career. 

Only I got pretty discouraged when I failed my L-3 Full-Cert Communication Skills three times by 1985, my strongest asset according to my students and L-2 Exam. 

And Ski Schools laugh at Qualified Instructors L-3 or otherwise who think they can make a profession out of ski-teaching. 

I feel sorry for you, Bob. 

You may be a fine instructor, I don't know.

but one thing is for sure: you're stuck in the PSIA System, and your writing and most of PSIA's is like reading the Tax Code. 

I may have suffered a lot of years not being on the same pinnacle as you, but I'm a free man able to speak my mind. 

One of your cohorts says "Choose your battles wisely"---I'm just starting to do that. 

One Good Turn Deserves Another---Heinsian DOWNHILL SKIING . . . is an idea whose time has come---it will "blow you away," as you say. 

                              ---GARY HEINS, U.S. SKI-TURNER GENERAL


Originally Posted by Bob Barnes View Post

Good on ya', Bushwacker, for bringing this up. Certainly, as others have noted, there are politics in any organization that is not an absolute dictatorship. PSIA, of course, is no exception.
challenging the norm is the only way true progression is ever going to happen.
You're right, BWPA. Good is the enemy of great. Innovation and consistency represent a polarity of seemingly incompatible opposites, yet both are critical in any endeavor like PSIA. Maintaining, training, and certifying to standards must work hand in hand with leadership, experimentation, and innovation. The polarity must be embraced, but it is rarely a comfortable or easy relationship.
PSIA is an organization of some 30,000 members, if I'm not mistaken. That's 30,000 individual, unique personalities, representing every age group, education level and field of expertise, including ski instructors who have dedicated decades of their lives to the profession, others who are but the most casual, part-time dabblers, and everything in between. PSIA should somehow answer to "the membership," but when membership is so incredibly diverse, with so many different interests and needs, how is it possible? PSIA should somehow answer to the skiing public as well, of course (in my opinion), seeking to train and certify instructors to provide the best possible mountain experience, training, and coaching possible. On the other hand, since PSIA provides education and training opportunities only--and does not, in fact, exercise any control whatsoever over what is actually taught at individual ski schools across the country--individual instructors and ski schools, not PSIA, must be held accountable for what and how they teach.
There is a great deal of misinformation out there as to what, exactly, PSIA does and does not do. For the record (as a long-time PSIA-Rocky Mountain Examiner and author of many of the training and educational materials for our division), PSIA does NOT teach instructors how or what to teach. Instead, PSIA seeks to develop the background, skill, and understanding in both the technical cause-and-effect relationships of biomechanics, physics, equipment, and movement patterns, and the educational aspects of contemporary teaching and learning theory, to better enable instructors to develop their own lesson plans. We don't teach "a progression" or a particular type of turn. We don't advocate a particular technique. We train instructors to develop their own progressions, based on the needs and goals of their individual students, built on a strong foundation of understanding, knowledge, and skill. If any instructors--PSIA or otherwise--are restricted to teaching a certain way, a particular progression, or a certain technique, it is a directive from the particular program or program director for whom they work. PSIA seeks to provide a background that will enable instructors to be successful in any program, to adapt to any needs. Ideally, a PSIA instructor is versed not in "good vs. bad," but in cause and effect.
That's not to say that individual instructors do not have their own opinions and preferences. As humans, it's impossible not to. And therein lies the problem--or at least, a large part of it. As an instructor seeking certification, you are going to face individuals who, no matter how diligently they try to be objective, can't help but have their own biases and prejudices. In my experience, at least in my division of PSIA, I can tell you that probably 95% of our Education Staff (Examiners) are professional, earnest, honest people who want nothing more than to evaluate you as fairly and objectively as they can. They want to train you well, and they want you to pass the exam if (but only if) you are prepared. They are confident enough to allow you to express differences of opinion--provided you can support your point of view effectively. I've often said that if you come up with the same solution as I do, you'll probably pass, but if you want to blow me away, come up with something different, something I haven't thought of, and support it. Yes, there are still a few Examiners who think that "guess what I'm thinking" is a legitimate way to conduct an exam, and who struggle with anything that is controversial, "out of the box," or innovative. Our Education Staff verification program that requires Examiners to reverify their skills and understanding of our exam tasks has helped eliminate much of the inconsistency. And we have continued to tweak our exam formats to make them increasingly objective and consistent, and to make it impossible for any one Examiner bias to skew the results. Nothing is perfect--and by many accounts, we still have a long ways to go--but I can assure you that we're trying.
Nevertheless, I think it's possible that even some of our best attempts to solve the problem are causing problems themselves. As I've said, we must embrace the "Weemsian Polarity" of both supporting creativity and innovation on one hand and testing consistent, objective, measurable criteria on the other. To make the exam experience more transparent and consistent for candidates (and Examiners as well), we have become increasingly "process-oriented." In the old days, an Examiner would just take a group of skiers out for a day and do just about whatever he or she wanted in order to evaluate the candidates against a sometimes vague standard. Today, the exam process is defined from start to finish, with locations, tasks, and even the questions Examiners ask, largely predetermined. The movement analysis section follows a rigorous, mostly inflexible format that has the advantage of being predictable and "trainable," but the disadvantage of largely forcing different individuals with diverse thought processes into the same mold. In short, while a cornerstone of PSIA's teaching philosophy has long been "outcome orientation," our exams have become increasingly process-oriented. The loose "old days format" encouraged creativity on both the parts of the Examiner and the candidates, but also encouraged the perception (if not the reality) of favoritism and inconsistency (and politics). The new format goes a long way to make the experience consistent and predictable, but also may stifle creativity. Eliminating the "human" part of the exam minimizes both human error and, arguably, humanism. In testing for what is ultimately a highly personal, creative, individualized "guest-centered" profession, we have gone to great lengths to make our exams impersonal and objective. Have we thrown out both the bathwater and the baby?
I don't wish to be an apologist for PSIA. I've supported the organization for a very long time, but I've certainly had my frustrations and disagreements as well. It's not perfect, but again, I contend that the imperfections are anything but intentional, and that good people are continuously working (mostly volunteering) to improve it.
In any case, some of the information and suggestions in this thread bear further examination, to say the least. PSIA, like any human training and (especially) testing organization, will always be vulnerable to cries of favoritism, subjectivity, and politics. But to suggest that it's "100%" political is pretty unsupportable. MasterMagician--while you are certainly entitled to your opinions, it's beyond absurd to say things like "PSIA is a club with a specific agenda ... [which is] to sell as many pair of new skis at the mountain's ski shop as possible." Come on--that's not an opinion--it's just plain ridiculous. PSIA does not, for one thing, sell skis--at all. You may well have worked for a ski school that operated on that questionable mission and "agenda," but PSIA certainly had nothing to do with it. There may be legitimate things to blame PSIA for, but your argument is weakened when you resort to far-fetched notions like this one. You're entitled to your preferences, too--like skiing on "straight" skis. For what it's worth, any good PSIA instructor would have no problem helping you get more out of even such dated equipment, and the fact (not opinion) is that, while the tools have improved by most accounts, the laws of physics they are meant to exploit have not changed at all. I won't "jump down your throat" (as you suggest)--and you are certainly welcome to your opinions--but "because the proper technique for them will never change" strikes me as one of the weaker arguments I've heard for wanting to ski on "old straight skis." Regardless, it's entirely up to you what you ski on, but I'm not sure how your personal gear preferences are relevant to a discussion of "politics" in PSIA.
I will point out one area that I think has become a weakness of PSIA--although I don't think that PSIA itself is really to blame. Largely due to changes in the ski industry as a whole, and possibly even to social changes in the world in general, the average career of a ski instructor has become exceedingly brief--a year or maybe two for many people. A resort near me claims to have hired 200 brand new instructors (half its staff) this season. In an old PSIA teaching manual, the author estimated that it takes, on average, a minimum of 7 years experience before an instructor starts to become truly and consistently effective. Wikipedia suggests that "many accounts of the development of expertise emphasize that it comes about through long periods of deliberate practice. In many domains of expertise estimates of 10 years experience or 10,000 hours deliberate practice are common." By these criteria, most instructors these days are hardly "experts." Instructor training programs--including PSIA's Level 1 Certification--largely focus on an accelerated practical approach meant to get an instructor somewhat up to speed in a very short time. Many instructors are teaching live students with no more than 30 hours of specific training themselves. While it's reasonably easy to impart a certain amount of "knowledge" in a short time, developing true understanding and experience takes far longer. In a well-known learning model, Benjamin Bloom identified six stages in the development of understanding: Knowledge-Comprehension-Application-Analysis-Synthesis-Evaluation. I won't go into detail--easily found with a little searching on the Web--but it's worth noting that "knowledge" is but the very first rung on the ladder.
EpicSki's instruction forums themselves are a perfect example of the danger of "a little knowledge." Unfortunately, accumulation of "knowledge" is as far as many instructors (and even more non-instructors) get. More importantly, that limitation includes even some instructors who become trainers, Examiners, and Team members...vast quantities of unquestioned, unexamined, questionable "knowledge." And "knowledge," unlike the higher levels of understanding, is typically black and white--you either "know" it or you don't--or you "know" something different. There is no gray area, no "polarity," no room for alternative perspectives. Arguments at that level (witness again so many instructional threads here) don't usually amount to much, or reach much of a resolution.
I personally will never not challenge ideas and thoughts. "Just because I say so" is not a good enough answer for my students why should it be a good enough answer for me?
Well said again, Bushwacker--and admirable. It's the main reason why I always insist that you never believe anything I tell you. (That's not to say that you should categorically disbelieve it, either. Don't believe anything I tell you, or anything anyone else tells you, or even anything you believe yourself. Question and challenge everything!) But when you're dealing with (or being examined by) someone with only "knowledge," you can never win by challenging or questioning their dogma. All I can say is, grin and bear it, and try to find ways to remain true to your own ideals without unnecessarily raising any red flags for examiners who may lack deep understanding. There are known controversial "hot button" terms and concepts that you'd be best to avoid if possible. There are times when the less said, the better. Remember that, while even the most dogmatic types can sometimes be swayed by brilliant argument and explanation of your "alternate" point of view, it can take a lot more time than you have in an exam or a selection process. I hate to say this--wish it were not true--but there may be better times and places to express your unique perspectives than in an exam or selection.
Finally, on the other side of the coin, many examiners actually do have a wealth of experience and a very deep understanding. I can attest to the fact that many exam candidates actually lack the understanding to "get" why they did not pass an exam, or a component of an exam. I failed my first Full Cert exam, quite some time ago, and for years I thought--honestly believed--that I should have passed it, that it must have been just politics. It wasn't until years later that I had gained the perspective that allowed me to see why I had legitimately failed that segment of the exam. "Evaluation"--the job of an examiner--represents the highest level of Bloom's Taxonomy of understanding, and it should surprise few that most exam candidates who are just getting a grasp on some basic concepts would lack that level of understanding.
My advice (from someone who has learned some of this the hard way): Keep questioning. Keep challenging. Keep exploring. But heed MojoMan's warning (post #4 above) about being confrontational. Choose your battles--and your battlegrounds--with care. Challenge productively, politely, and with respect for the likelihood that the person you're challenging may also hold a valid perspective--and may well have a deeper understanding of some aspects, at least, than you. Be prepared to offer justification and explanation for your conflicting ideas. Seek deeper understanding, always. Where you know you hold a controversial viewpoint, practice your explanation and justification so you may more effectively persuade others to consider your ideas.
Good luck!
Best regards,


post #69 of 75
Gee, got sour grapes, Gary?

Holy smokes--a new level of clueless seems to have arisen here. Here's an idea: why don't you post about some of your ideas about skiing here so we can discuss them. Then, if people like your ideas, you might sell a few of your books. Telling people that they should buy your books because you were "exiled" from PSIA after three times failing to meet the certification standard does not seem very convincing to me, I'm afraid.

Come on. Show us what you got. I'm not buying your book until I see a good reason. But I am tired already of your bad-mouthing an organization of 30,000 people with baseless and unsupported drivel. I'll bet others are too. Provide some evidence. Where's the beef?

Bob Barnes
post #70 of 75

I think the mountains play a big role.  I have heard a number of times that on a corporate basis, mountains would rather have intermediate skiers over advanced skiers because they rent more skis, spend more time in the lodge buying food, plus blue runs are easier to create, easier to manage, with less risk and liability.  And so, the push for advanced techniques, if the prior is true, will have little support from above at the moutains. 


My second comment, from personal experience, is that the greatest defenders of the status quo can be those with less true understanding of the topic, who find safety in the rules and structure.  Challenges to the rules and structure undermine their security in the topic.


Merry Christmas to those that partake and best wishes ot the rest.   



post #71 of 75

Hey guys, just wanted to let you all know that I banned GARY HEINS for being a spammer. Carry on.

post #72 of 75
Originally Posted by epic View Post

Hey guys, just wanted to let you all know that I banned GARY HEINS for being a spammer. Carry on.

Good move.  Thanks.  

Perhaps he will write a book attacking Epic for banning him.

post #73 of 75

Honestly, it's too bad you banned him. His posts spoke mountains without our help. Certainly, his language and posturing as 'victim' isn't a good communication strategy to sell product. Skiing is too fun to be bitter about events a quarter century past. I'd advise him to just do his own thing. If it works, he really wouldn't be competing with PSIA anyway. If it's not working out for him, time to find a different day job and just enjoy skiing.

post #74 of 75
Thread Starter 


Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post

Good move.  Thanks.  

Perhaps he will write a book attacking Epic for banning him.

I do not met the standards of EPIC wahhh lets go cry about it. Did you guy send him a link to the 'other" forum!

post #75 of 75
Originally Posted by epic View Post

Hey guys, just wanted to let you all know that I banned GARY HEINS for being a spammer. Carry on.

Thank you  icon14.gif

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