Nick Capriolo began at Fintona in 2009. He teaches English in the Middle and Senior Schools and Legal Studies in the Senior School but as well as being a well-respected and talented teacher, Nick actually began his career as an industrial and graphic designer and then later became a lawyer. He tells us more about his interesting journey from the ‘artworld’ and academia to teaching secondary school girls at Fintona.
You have had several, quite diverse careers. When did you know that a teaching career was your true vocation?
After completing an Honours Degree in Literature and Philosophy, I taught at the University of Melbourne in the Philosophy department for about eight years while completing post-grad and working in the law. I found tertiary teaching stimulating but not as rewarding as I subsequently found secondary teaching – it is less fraught with egos and it’s more challenging to teach students to walk rather than run. Also, I soon discovered that besides being the most enervating job, it is one of those careers that you never question the worthiness of what you are doing - it has an immeasurable soul-enriching effect.
As a teacher, where have you worked prior to coming to Fintona?
My first teaching position was at Thomas Carr College, a large, co-educational Catholic school in the Western suburbs. I then applied for a position at Fintona The contrast between the schools could not have been greater and it was not long before the impeccable behaviour and conscientiousness of the students, as well as the warm collegiality of the staff, convinced me my choice of career was not a mistake. I was fortunate to start teaching Legal Studies for Years 11 and 12, as well as Years 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11, in English. The range of year levels was demanding but engaging.
What do you think students find most appealing about your classes?
I do find that if a teacher is candid and treats students as possessing the ability to judge the fundamentals of life and learning as capably as anyone else, they respond to the intellectual independence with which you credit them; students of all ages have a keen radar for teachers’ pretensions or incompetence. Also I find humour a great leveller and communal device. I believe that when a teacher and students share laughter, it is one of the most positively nourishing moments.
You love to read. What are your favourite books?
Philosophy is my strongest academic interest and I tend to read philosophical journals and texts. As far as literature goes, I generally read poetry rather than prose, however I keep revisiting the classics; Joseph Conrad and Nabokov are probably my favourites. I also read anything Ian McEwan writes.
Can you tell us what your interests are outside of school?
My external interests include architecture and building; I have been building my own house for the last twenty years. I indulge in photography and painting when I can, but would love the confidence and time to be less of a dilettante and focus on writing and painting. Over the last few years, due to the recent phenomenal technology, I have experienced a belated passion for music of all genres. I wholeheartedly agree with Kurt Vonnegut, another of my favourite authors, for an atheist, music is the closest thing to the divine.