The Danger of Designing Lessons for Thinkers

By Gillian Judson
This blog was posted first on BAM Radio’s EDWords.
My twitter handle will seem a bit strange to some readers. 
I am @perfinker.
The premise of this term—coined by David L. Krech—is that human beings never just think. They are not best described, therefore, as “thinkers.” Rather, human beings are emotional beings. Our emotional responses are the primary way in which we make sense out of our experiences. We have bodies that influence how the world is experienced. We have the capacity to envision the possible—we are an imaginative species.  What we most remember and understand are topics/events that have evoked our emotions and imaginations.
We always perceive, feel and think at the same time; we perfink.
With this in mind, it’s a problem to approach teaching with a view of students as mostly or primarily “thinkers.” Doing so results in the kinds of objectives-based approaches to teaching shaped after industrial production methods. It may be logical to break a topic down into five or six parts, teach and then test, but it certainly isn’t the best way to teach emotional beings.
We don’t teach talking heads. We teach embodied minds and hearts—Body And Mind—BAM!
Education suffers from the misconception that rational thinking and imagination are somehow at odds. Many people believe imagination contributes to work in the arts, but not to learning in mathematics, science, social studies. etc. Many people assume the imagination and imaginative engagement in learning are primary or elementary school phenomena. These kinds of beliefs are harming our kids—they are leaving them disengaged in schools.
I encourage all teachers to re-imagine their students as the “perfinkers” that they are. With perfinkers in mind, teachers can shape topics in emotionally meaningful ways using the tools of imagination.
For more, see:

Gillian Judson is a researcher, teacher and advocate of the role of imagination in all learning. Follow her on Twitter: @perfinker.

Stay in-the-know with all things EdTech and innovations in learning by signing up to receive the weekly Smart Update.

Guest Author

Getting Smart loves its varied and ranging staff of guest contributors. From edleaders, educators and students to business leaders, tech experts and researchers we are committed to finding diverse voices that highlight the cutting edge of learning.

Discover the latest in learning innovations

Sign up for our weekly newsletter.


Sandra Velasquez

Great to see this information and perspective because I have had to fight to teach my students this way. Thank you.

Sandra Velasquez

Perfinker makes sense to me!

Gillian Judson

Hi Sandra!
Imaginative Education is a wonderful pedagogical framework that explains what teachers like you have known for a long time! How to engage students and how to help them remember. Teach them in ways that always tap into the emotion. I also appreciate that term--soooooo different than "thinker". Let me know if you want to connect with other imagination-focused educators!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.