Although a picture may be worth a thousand words, modeling diagrams as propositions and modeling visual processing as search through a database of verbal descriptions obscures what is problematic for the learner. Cognitive modeling of language learning and geometry has obscured the learner's problem of knowing where to look-what spaces, markings, and orienta, tions constitute the objects of interest? Today, educational researchers are
launching into widespread use of multimedia instructional technology without an adequate theory to relate perceptual processes to conceptual learning. Does this matter? In this article, I review the symbolic approach to modeling perceptual processing and show its limitations for explaining difficulties children encounter in interpreting a graphic display. I present an alternative analysis by which perceptual categorization is coupled to behavior sequences where gesturing and emotional changes are essential for resolving impasses and breaking out of loops. I conclude by asking what kind of cognitive theory researchers need to exploit communication technology. Is it correct to assume that pedagogy must be grounded in an accurate psychological model of knowledge, memory, and learning?