Comparing Tolkien and Bukvich

A teacher who is ardently devoted to their discipline will go above and beyond what is required to pull their paycheck. I think we find this in all the great pedagogues.

Here, Tolkien’s tenure and Oxford is described:

What, in practical terms, did it mean to be the Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford? The simplest answer is that it meant a good deal of hard work.

The statutes called upon Tolkien to give a minimum of thirty-six lectures or classes a year, but he did not consider this to be sufficient to cover the subject, and in the second year after being elected Professor he gave one hundred and thirty-six lectures ad classes.

-Humphrey Carpenter, J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography, p.140

Job requirement: 36 hours.

Actual time: 136 hours.

Where have I seen something like this before? Oh yes. Dan Bukvich of course. By far the most effective teacher I encountered in university. I’ve written about him before.

Job Requirement:

Teach freshman music theory
Teach Freshman ear training
Give private percussion lessons (once a week per student)


Teach freshman music theory
Teach freshman ear training
Write and continually revising the textbooks for both these courses
Give private percussion lessons (TWICE a week per student)
Direct large jazz choir (his most pubic role)
Direct small jazz choir
Compose and personally arrange huge piles of music for these choirs to sing
Teach “Theoretical Basis of Jazz”
Direct percussion ensemble
Direct the annual “Dancers Drummers Dreamers” show
Oversee directed studies in composition
And much much more…

That’s all I can remember. And that’s just his job. What did Tolkien do on the side? He wrote The Lord of the Rings, the greatest novel of the 20th century. Bukvich? Composed a multitude of music for choir, concert band, orchestra, percussion ensemble, and so forth. These exist in a smaller circle of influence than a novel read worldwide, but by many measures are no less significant.

I had other good professors in college, but none had near the impact on my education. Talk about “above and beyond”. Thanks Dan!