can't see the wood for the trees

To be unable to judge or understand the whole because of attention to the parts; criticize small things and not see the value or the aim of the future achievement.
Teachers sometimes notice language errors and do not see the good ideas in a composition; they cannot see the woods for the trees.
The voters defeated a bond issue for the new school because they couldn't see the forest for the trees; they thought of their taxes rather than of their children's education.
We should think of children's growth in character and understanding more than of their little faults and misdeeds; some of us can't see the wood for the trees.
Categories: verb