Primary Colours

Every parent of small children must know this fear, for you are never less than a few moments away from it. You are watching the telly with your little one; it is The Fimbles, or The Tweenies, or The Teletubbies, and the simple lives of those simple souls on screen hits a snag. They are in the middle of a painting assignment, they want to produce a picture of an orange in a tree, but what is this? They have only red, blue and yellow paint! How can they paint a big juicy orange in a lush green tree when they have such a limited palette to work with?

Your heart sinks with the weary inevitability of it all. The multi-coloured characters on the telly go through the motions of struggling to paint the seemingly impossible until, eureka! By happy accident some of the yellow paint for the sun splashes onto the blue of the sky and there, before our very eyes, we see formed the finest green; just the thing to paint the leaves on the tree. But this strange alchemy isn’t over yet; another fortuitous blurring of red and yellow elsewhere on the painting and hey presto, we have the creation of orange, so they can now paint the, er, orange. We are saved, and the painting can now be completed.

Just in case your child hasn’t grasped the concept yet, don’t worry. Later that day it is very likely that Balamory or Tikkabilla or Doodle-Do will cover the same subject all over again, informing you about which two colours can be combined to make a third. Making colours must be considered an area of expertise so important to our children’s development that they are battered over the head with it almost daily. Furthermore there don’t appear to be any dissenting voices over its value, there is no argument here as there is over, say, teaching phonics, be it synthetic or analytic; there must be a consensus that each TV programme should feature at least one episode devoted to mixing colours in order to fill up a spare 20 minutes assist in this crucial facet of our children’s education.

The UK may be falling behind other nations in the productivity league table, we may not be equipping the youth of today with the qualifications required to gain and maintain a lead in the vital knowledge economy, but by God our children will grow up to know that red and blue make purple; and surely with that our future prosperity is assured.