Since I’m all about honesty, I have had to admit to you, the students, that I am a bit of an American pessimist. It’s not that I don’t want America to be all we think of it as, it’s just that, realistically speaking, the “American dream” is, well, a dream.
But that doesn’t mean that everyone should be so pessimistic, or even realistic. I heartily encourage everyone who has the stomach for it to become a wild optimist, and there’s no better time than high school for wild optimism. I hope that my sad, crotchety, old-person pessimism will serve only as a foil to expose the benefits of a rosier outlook rather than overtake the class as the prevailing attitude.
Plus, I have a secret. I’m going to type it here on my blog where I can be absolutely sure no person will ever read it:
Deep down inside, under all the disappointment and spoiled dreams, I am actually a wild optimist who thinks that the real-est reality is our dreams. You know–“row row row your boat,” and all that. In fact, I’m pretty sure that all of this–you know, the world, people, life–is all in my head. It’s a liberating attitude, really. You should try it sometime…if my imagination let’s you, that is.
Aaaaanyway, we had class. We did some free-associatin’ with the words “American” and “dream.” Here are some basic ideas we came up with:
America: a territory, or country, with borders, a government, shared laws, physical space, unique identity, culture (traditions, rituals, values, understanding, myths, etc.)
dream: fantasy, subconscious, not real or possibly more real than reality (see above), reveals truth, reveals the future, distraction, narrative (story with beginning/middle/end that can be read for some sort of meaning), sleep, goal, desire, hidden
So you can see how many serious and profound topics are locked up inside these two innocent widdle words, and we spent some time talking about each idea. By the way, this is the kind of stuff that is perfect fodder for your response papers since I know there were people in class with ideas they didn’t share, and there’s no way we can give each idea the time it needs to be sorted out properly.
After that, I asked the class to come up with a couple of examples of people living the “American dream.” These examples ranged from Oprah to one of the students herself, which is an interesting contrast since Oprah is a billionaire media impresario (a?), and my student happens to be an average (socioeconomically average, that is–far above average in intelligence and creativity, of course) middle class suburbanite. How can they both be livin’ the dream? We discussed.
Finally, we read some stuff about the “American dream” which you can come get from me if you missed class or need another copy to help you craft your first response paper, due a week from this coming Monday.
That is all. I’ve got to get back to living my own dream now, which does not happen to involve blogging.