As a child, my father Harold Robert Wilson, (12 April 1927 – 4 February 2005) introduced me to the ‘world of sport’ through the great game of cricket. My father seemed to be creating a zone of proximal development (ZPD) to transfer his sporting passion to me. So, he named me Everton, taught me to bowl left hand and bat right-hand like his cricketing hero Sir Everton Weekes. As a result my journey with a bat and ball started.
Sir Everton DeCourcy Weekes (26 February 1925 – 1 July 2020).
Weekes was a third of the famous three W’s cricketing sport zone of proximal development [Worrell, Weekes and Walcott]. Further, the talk is he was the best batsman of the three. However, it is said that ‘Worrell’s advice to Weekes not to hit the ball so hard… that the fielders even gave up the attempt to chase… and thus escaped tiring themselves out, was only partially in jest’. This shows the Worrell and Weekes zone of proximal development in action.
The place of the three W’s in the West Indian popular imagination is captured best by a story the historian Ramachandra Guha relates:
“One of my favourite cricket stories is of the Archbishop of Canterbury going to preach in the Anglican Cathedral in Bridgetown. He began by saying: “I am going to speak to you about the three Ws”… A great cheer went up from the audience. But then he said, “Yes the three Ws – Work, Worship and Witness”, whereupon half the crowd walked out.”
Sir Everton DeCourcy Weekes, KCMG, GCM, OBE
Weekes was one of the finest to have played the game… Pleasing to the eye, entertaining, temperamentally and technically sound. And then, he had courage…
What is The Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)?
“the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving… the level of potential development as determined through problem-solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers” (Vygotsky, 1978, p. 86).
The ZPD has become synonymous in the literature with the term scaffolding. Scaffolding was introduced by Wood, Bruner and Ross (1976).
Scaffolding consists of the activities provided by the educator, or more competent peer… the student is supported as he or she is led through the zone of proximal development.
Support is tapered off (i.e. withdrawn) as it becomes unnecessary, much as a scaffold is removed from a building during construction. The student will then be able to complete the task again on his own.
From cricket to table-tennis
My brother Junior and I broke many window panes playing cricket. As a result our parents tried to solve the problem by buying us two VIC table tennis bats. Meanwhile, as we began to enter tournaments my southpaw style was recognised by Mr Herbert Christopher. On the other hand his son, the then junior Caribbean champion Nigel, needed a southpaw training partner with a sidespin/topspin loop. So, Mr Christopher spent countless hours with his ‘box of table tennis balls’, teaching me to loop. Consequently, I developed a uniquely vicious loop. However, I learnt a lot in the Christopher table-tennis ZPD with Nigel, Andrea, Vaughn, Ian and Raymond. Moreover, this ZPD was the platform for my greatest table tennis achievement years later.
Everton Wilson National B Class Champion
The DR. HERBERT NEUBAUER challenge
7 times World Veterans Champion · 6 times European Veterans Champion · 4 Gold medals at the World Senior Games
In an ETTA Grand Prix tournament DR. HERBERT NEUBAUER beat me in 3 straight sets. However after the game he said I had a very dangerous loop. For the first time I decided after age 40 to train as I did with Mr Christopher age 17-23, to see if I could beat DR. NEUBAUER the next time I met him. Above all, it was time to implement the Christopher ZPD experience. In addition I applied the PDCA (Plan, Do, Check and Act) cycle, Jim Collins Good To Great ~ Disciplined People Thought Action (2001) plus John Doerr ~ Measure What Matters (2017) principles.
Firstly, load up my TTmatic 500 robot (Mr Christopher replacement) with table tennis balls. Secondly, practice forehand | backhand loop and punch against varied speeds, positions, spins and floats. Thirdly, Disciplined Thought | Jim Collins
Meanwhile, I trained four hours per day. Two hours in the morning and two in the afternoon on robot. After that I did footwork, skipping and interval training on a steep hill for 30 minutes per day. In other words, Discipline People | Jim Collins principle.
Next I played games on weekends with my training partner Joe to see how my game was progressing. To clarify my OKRs—objectives and key results | Measure What Matters. | John Doerr
Fortunately two weeks later in the next grand prix I drew DR. HERBERT NEUBAUER in my group. He was beaten in 3 straight sets as my all out attack on both wings proved to strong for him. The process had worked, my goal and greatest victory was achieved. I had fulfilled my lifetime dream of playing on the world stage and beating a great player. In short, Disciplined Action | Jim Collins works.
The Importance of ZPD and OKR’s in personal development, sports, business and education.
The ZPD More Knowledgeable Other (MKO) is a great way to develop personal, sports, business or education human capital. Used in conjunction with the PDCA cycle this simple goal setting technique called OKRs—objectives and key results can help to exceed all expectations. Especially if you integrate them into your LEAN PLAN.
In conclusion, get in The ZPD with MKO’s and set OKRs. For no matter what stage of the journey you are, parent, student, educator, businessperson, unemployed or sports personality these principles work.