Why Spend The Time To Teach Research, Critical Thinking and Social Networking Skills?

I received the following email today:

“Please pass this along to anyone you know, this needs to get out in the open.

Recently Marines over in Iraq supporting this country in OIF wrote to Starbucks because they wanted to let them know how much they liked their coffee and try to score some free coffee grounds. Starbucks wrote back telling the Marines thanks for their support in their business, but that they don’t support the War and anyone in it and that they won’t send them the Coffee.

So as not to offend them we should not support in buying any Starbucks products. As a War vet and writing to you patriots I feel we should get this out in the open. I know this War might not be very popular with some folks, but that doesn’t mean we don’t support the boys on the ground fighting street to street and house to house for what they and I believe is right. If you feel the same as I do then pass this along, or you can discard it and I’ll never know. Thanks very much for your support to me, and I know you’ll all be there again here soon when I deploy once more.

Semper Fidelis,

Sgt Howard C. Wright
1st Force Recon Co
1st Plt PLT RTO”

Now to most of us this had “RED FLAG” written all over it. But the person who forwarded it to everyone on our staff just saw a seeming injustice and wanted to help spread the word. To me this is a lesson on why we cannot just avoid teaching kids the tools and spaces of the net and how to use them effectively and ethically. This also points out why we must spend more time on teaching critical thinking and analysis – how to question what we see and read and hear – I won’t link to it here, but this is a similar lesson to what many have taught using the MLK web page that is really a white supremacist site in sheeps clothing. Teaching students to be critical thinkers needs to be done anyhow, we leverage that when in doing so we teach students to use powerful tools that will enhance their learning in a myriad of ways.

The end of THIS story is happy by the way, because after getting feedback from a number of us, the sender followed up later in the day with this:

After sending the e-mail this morning, I did some investigation and found the following. Sorry if it upset any of you, as it seems to have
caused a stir. I had received the e-mail several times and simply passed it on, something I will make sure not to do in the future! Always research first…

Comments: It’s unclear whether Starbucks ever actually refused to donate coffee to U.S. Marines in Iraq who requested it, but if they did, it wasn’t because, as the above email claims, “they don’t support the
war and anyone in it.”

Marine Sgt. Howard C. Wright, who authored the email in May 2004, subsequently issued a mea culpa (currently being distributed by Starbucks in answer to queries) in which he said:

Almost 5 months ago I sent an email to you my faithful friends. I did a wrong thing that needs to be cleared up. I heard by word of mouth about how Starbucks said they didn’t support the war and all. I was having enough of that kind of talk and didn’t do my research properly like I should have. This is not true. Starbucks supports men and women in uniform. They have personally contacted me and I have been sent many copies of their company’s policy on this issue. So I apologize for this quick and wrong letter that I sent out to you.

In its own response to the email rumor, Starbucks explains that while the company has “the deepest respect and admiration for U.S. military personnel,” corporate policy prohibits direct donations to U.S. troops because the military doesn’t fall under the strict definition of a public charity. Individual employees are free to donate their weekly pounds of take-home coffee, however, and according to Starbucks’ statement many have done so.

Learning is messy!!!

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5 thoughts on “Why Spend The Time To Teach Research, Critical Thinking and Social Networking Skills?

  1. I’d seen that as well pass through my email servers several times over the last few months. That’s one of the reasons Snopes.com is a favorite resource of mine when it comes to these emails.

  2. Re: Learning is messy!!!

    Thank you for this. It’s a good example of how misinformation is sometimes intentially created to manipulate competitive interests in the marketplace. It also demonstrates how bad information unexposed to critical thinking leads to inadvertant beliefs and how such beliefs — even among best intentions — sometimes enable and perpetuate injustices and immoral inflictions on others. On a larger scale, this illustrates a moral question: Profiteering from war and the integrity of people who knowingly or unknowingly enable profiteering. In a society where each of us is free to believe, speak and vote as we choose, is it morally okay for anyone not to critically think about what they believe, say and do?

  3. Can ANYONE please tell me where SGTHoward C. Wright is now?
    Did he get out of the Marines? Did he get promoted? What does he do? Does he still drink Starbuck, or did the trauma make him a Dunkin Donuts convert?
    That email fascinated me for years and someone sent it to me about 2 months ago. As a joke, I’ve wanted to send him bags and bags of Starbucks coffee.

  4. Raul, Howard is Staff Sgt. he is alive and doing well . as for where he is and what he is doing … just know he is serving his country VERY porudly! i know this as he is one of my best friends
    hope this helps

  5. Do you realize Eric that Howard, despite his service is considered by service members as one of the greatest winers of the war? Check for yourself.