American dream

Talking about . . . the American dream

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Generally speaking, opportunity gap refers to inputs (the unequal or inequitable distribution of resources and opportunities), while achievement gap refers to outputs (the unequal or inequitable distribution of educational results and benefits).

Since early in America’s history, the American dream was the belief that anyone in this country (including immigrants) could make it if they worked hard enough. Some people believe this has always been an illusion, while others point to it as a legitimate heritage of our country. Similar differences in perspective exist today: Is the American Dream alive and well or do the realities of today’s American economy and socio-political structure hamper certain groups of people so they cannot achieve what others might? What do you find inspiring about your personal American dream? Different perspectives on this issue are rarely explored — and we hope you have fun doing so in your conversation!

Click here if you would like a pdf of the following topic material to share with your cohost and friends.

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Background reading (optional)

While you don't need to be an expert on this topic, sometimes people want background information. Our partner, AllSides, has prepared a variety of articles reflecting multiple sides of this topic. 

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Now that you are all together, here we go!

This Living Room Conversation flows through five rounds of questions and a closing. Some rounds ask you to answer each question. Others feature multiple questions that serve as conversation starters — you need only respond to the one or two you find most interesting.

Before you begin your conversation, please go over the Conversation Ground Rules with your participants.

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One. Why are we here?

What interested you or drew you to this topic?

Two. Your core values

Answer one or more of the following:
  • what sense of purpose or duty guides you in life? What is your mission statement?
  • what would your best friend say about who you are and what makes you tick?
  • what are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country, now and long-term?

Three. What are your thoughts on the American dream?

Remember that the goal of this Living Room Conversation is for each participant to listen to and learn about the different opinions within the group to see where you might share interests, intentions and goals. 

Answer one or more of the following questions:
  • How do you describe the current American Dream? Is it alive and well?
  • What do you find inspiring about your personal American Dream?
  • Do you think the American Dream is unique to America? If so, how?

Four. Reflection

Answer one or more of the following questions:
  • in one sentence, share what was most meaningful or valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation;
  • what new understanding or common ground did you find within this topic?
  • has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?

Five. Accomplishment and moving forward

Answer both of the following questions:
  • name one important thing that was accomplished here;
  • is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?

Closing

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