Do “A”s Matter?


Zahra Mustafa, News Writer

We all know that one kid with the 4.0 GPA, and we sometimes wonder, ‘How do they do it?’ When asked how to get straight “A”s, Joseph Kissner, Biology and Human Physiology teacher at Eagan High School, gives us an unexpected answer: “’A’s are not supposed to be the goal.”

So what is the goal? “The goal is to learn,” said Kissner. He believes that giving an A when learning hasn’t occurred doesn’t represent anything and that he wouldn’t be accomplishing his goal as a teacher: To teach kids and to work hard.

If there is one quality Kissner admires in a student, it’s their work ethic. “That’s my number one criteria for judging a student. I don’t care if you get a D, B or an A. I want a student who is willing to work hard, asking for help and to have some level of perseverance. Any student who does that, to me is a student that I respect,” said Kissner.

As a student in high school, Kissner describes himself as being terrible, lazy and arrogant. “I would have driven myself crazy if I was a student in my classroom. I could easily get a B+ and A- without doing anything.” As a result, Kissner double majored in Biology and Psychology at Luther College, but didn’t do well in his first year. He didn’t know how to study or work. That’s why Kissner’s goal as a teacher is to motivate students and to help them figure out how to work in high school so that they don’t go through what he went through in college.

He would also love it if we didn’t have any grades.  He believes that there are too many people who are worried about grades rather than learning. “I wish that all students were motivated to learn, but you need that entrance of motivation to manipulate the students into wanting to learn,” Kissner explains.

One piece of advice Kissner would like to give students is to never give up. Just because you fail doesn’t mean you’re bad. It doesn’t mean your teachers are bad. It just simply means that you’re being asked to do something that you’re not good at yet. “We all had to learn how to walk, we all had to learn how to talk and most of us learned how to ride a bike, and all of those things you probably failed at many times before you were successful. And yet we are in a school where if the student fails once or twice they think they are bad or their teachers are bad and in reality they just need more practice.”

In the end go easy on yourself if you’re doing the best you can.