XXXV. TARES AMONG
It was at Tolstoy Farm that Mr. Kallenbach drew my
attention to a problem that had never before struck me.
As I have already said, some of the boys at the Farm were
bad and unruly. There were loafers, too, amongst them.
With these my three boys came in daily contact, as also
did other children of the same type as my own sons. This
troubled Mr. Kallenbach, but his attention was centred on
the impropriety of keeping my# boys with these unruly
One day he spoke out: 'Your way of mixing your own
boys with the bad ones does not appeal to me. It can have
only one result. They will become demoralized through
this bad company.'
I do not remember whether the question puzzled me at
the moment, but I recollect what I said to him:
'How can I distinguish between my boys and the
loafers? I am equally responsible for both. The
youngsters have come because I invited them. If I were to
dismiss them with some money, they would immediately run
off to Johannesburg and fall back into their old ways. To
tell you the truth, it is quite likely that they and
their guardians believe that, by having come here, they
have laid me under an obligation. That they have to put
up with a good deal of inconvenience here, you and I know
very well. But my duty is clear. I must have them here,
and therefore my boys also must needs live with them. And
surely you do not want me to teach my boys to feel from
today that they are superior to other boys. To put that
sense of superiority into their heads would be to lead
them astray. This association with other boys will be a
good discipline for them. They will, of their own accord,
learn to discriminate between good and evil. Why should
we not believe that, if there is really anything good in
them, it is bound to react on their companions? However
that may be, I cannot help keeping them here, and if that
means some risk, we must run it.'
Mr. Kallenbach shook his head.
The result, I think, cannot be said to have been bad.
I do not consider my sons were any the worse for the
experiment. On the contrary I can see that they gained
something. If there was the slightest trace of
superiority in them, it was destroyed and they learnt to
mix with all kinds of children. They were tested and
This and similar experiments have shown me that, if
good children are taught together with bad ones and
thrown into their company, they will lose nothing,
provided the experiment is conducted under the watchful
care of their parents and guardians.
Children wrapped up in cottonwool are not always proof
against all temptation or contamination. It is true,
however, that when boys and girls of all kinds of
upbringing are kept and taught together, the parents and
the teachers are put to the severest test. They have
constantly to be on the alert.