Computer packages are playing an increasingly dominant role in the life of most business organisations, which in turn is reflected in a greater role for packages in education. These packages both presuppose knowledge on the part of the user, and also "contain" knowledge of accounting as well as mathematical and other concepts. This paper suggests that packages function not just as information processing tools, but as "paradigms" which structure the approaches taken to cognitive tasks—although there may be an important distinction between expected and actual paradigms. The change to package-based paradigms represents a substantial shift in cognitive framework. The paper discusses the implications of this for package users and for the educational process. Three important themes are emphasised: first the importance of students learning about packages on a "meta" level rather than simply learning to use them; second the suggestion that treating packages as "black boxes" may sometimes be inevitable and desirable; and third the possibility that computer packages may, to some extent, serve as a substitute for education.