Testing the Scenario: Finance and thousands of years of lagomorph instinct

September 26, 2009

Greetings.  I apologize for my hay-breath—I’ve been stuffing my little furry face as I help Sofia (who is hopelessly clueless) with her studying for her finance case exam tomorrow.  Honestly, she just needs to cut her losses with that finance course.

She is taking a course for which she has not taken all the prerequisites.  I told her it was a bad idea.  She really does not have the time for both me and finance, so that was my first complaint.  Then, after a few weeks, what I observed worried me.

I woke up one Wednesday morning at 6 a.m. to groom myself and get ready for my day.  (Yes, I am nocturnal, but really, I am extremely active even though I only weigh 2.5 pounds.  I need to rejuvenate myself on a roughly ninety minute rotation.)  At precisely 6:06 a.m., my routine was disturbed by a rat-nest haired, conjunctivitis-eyed shell of my beloved—albeit dense—human pet.

Sofia emerged from her bedroom not long after she entered (for a human, that is—human rejuvenation requirements are excessive, really, considering how little they do that involves their entire body in action).  As she stumbled around, crazily muttering to herself about WACCs and how she’d like to whack Kevin for not waking up to study with her—my eyes darted around the room.  5 finance textbooks piled by the television.  A calculator on the counter.  Stacks of notes furiously scribbled in colorful gel pens.  Eraser crumbs under the table.  Candy wrappers, flavor-ice wrappers, tissues, plugged-in laptop—all the telltale signs of exhaustion, frustration, and determination.

Sofia decided she had to sign up for a class centered on advanced corporate finance cases.  It’s crucial to my as a student and professional, she told my grandparents.  It’d be a mistake to not take the class, especially if the professor allows me to without my prerequisites, she told me earnestly over grapes.

Why? Why the need to put herself in a class where she is clearly over her head?  A class where she needs a rabbit to check her algebra because her brain gets fried from all the other calculations?

I’m not certain.  She doesn’t seem to need external incentives to want to work hard in this class.  She seems to genuinely like the material, even after she spent 13 hours on a case, discussed it in class, and then spent another 4 on it to adjust her answers to reflect what she learned during the discussion.  She doesn’t complain about that class unless voicing frustrations regarding how much more she could get out of the course if she didn’t have to spend three-quarters of her study-time learning concepts that are considered elementary in the context the case.

I guess she really likes it.  It seems to me like the class has captured her interest and is challenging her.  It is pushing her beyond what she believes her capabilities to be.  She reads the case, checks the class textbook, checks her other finance textbooks to try and break down what she reads in the class textbook, googles the terms from her supplemental textbooks for further information, looks up her professor’s old powerpoints, goes to see her 422 professor, goes to see her 321 professor to try and understand what her 422 professor meant, suckers her friends in 422 to “study” with her until midnight on Friday night…and the pathetic list goes on.

But  is it really pathetic?  Is there something wrong with wanting to learn about something to the point of becoming obsessed?  A nirvana of sorts that comes only after intense focus followed by intellectual enlightenment?  To explore every single potential avenue in the event that just one will provide deeper understanding?

I don’t think so.  I think all humans could benefit from what can only be referred to as intrinsic motivation.  In fact, the world would be a place of excitedly wiping-the-sweat-off-my-brow-contentment if intrinsic motivation was used as the path to learning.

But it’s not.  That’s the beauty of intrinsic motivation.  It cannot be forced or harnessed.  You don’t know what motivates you from within until you realize that all you have to show for the last six hours is post-its with sensitivity analysis stuck together to form a little train.  It has nothing to do with outside course learning or in-the-classroom-until-I-stab-myself-in-the-eyeball-with-my-blunt-pencil learning.  It is unique to each man, woman, and rabbit.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I know that there has to be a way of digging a hole in this unbelievably ugly carpeting.  I cannot stop myself from instinctively attempting to burrow any more than Sofia can stop herself from finance (that’s pronounced fin-ANS, not FIGH-nan-s).


3 Responses to “Testing the Scenario: Finance and thousands of years of lagomorph instinct”

  1. The writing is good now.

    Do tell Sofia that doing calculations gets harder and harder when sleep is in short supply.

  2. Xuan said

    Sophia, you have a really cute bunny 🙂

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