The Bundle of Sticks

The Bundle of Sticks

from Aesop

A fable retold by Laurence Musgrove

A teacher had students who were always despairing about their writing.  She tried to persuade them that success would come with patience, practice, and persistence, but she found that no advice would change their minds.  So she decided to give them an object-lesson.

One morning before leaving for school, she collected and tied into a bundle small branches fallen from the laurel trees which surrounded her house.

Taking this large collection of sticks to class, she asked the students one by one to break the bundle.  None were able to complete the assignment.  Even the largest and strongest were frustrated.

Next she untied the bundle, distributed the small sticks, and instructed each in turn to break one of them.

“It will be the same with you,” she told them.

“When you divide your work into smaller tasks, you will succeed where many have failed.”