In 1925, Paton went to teach in a native school in Ixopo and three years later went on to teach at Pietermaritzburg College for another seven years. He wrote a great many poems and two novels, but destroyed the novels because they didn't satisfy him. Then in 1935, he quit teaching and entered reformatory work, becoming principal of Diepkloof Reformatory, which housed about six hundred boys. Paton began a program of reforms there, providing the boys with more freedom and better preparation for adapting themselves to the outside world prior to their release. In fact, he became known among the inmates as "the man who pulled up barbed wire fences and planted geraniums." The coming of World War II prevented Paton from putting all his reforms into effect. Paton himself tried to enlist in the South African army, but the Department of Education felt he was needed far more at Diepkloof Reformatory. With the end of the war, Paton started on an ambitious program of studying prisons and reform
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