In an epic road trip, political comedian John Fugelsang retraces the journey of Alexis de Tocqueville, whose study of our young country in 1831 came to define America as a place where anyone, of any background, could climb the ladder of economic opportunity. Following in the Frenchman’s footsteps, Fugelsang asks whether the optimistic spirit of the American Dream that Tocqueville popularized is alive and well in the twenty-first century, or whether George Carlin was right when he famously quipped, “It’s called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.” Explore how immigration, economics, incarceration rates, and education all contribute to understandings about the American Dream in this collection of resources from the film, DREAM ON.

  • Alexis de Tocqueville and the American Dream | Dream On

    Learn about Alexis de Tocqueville, his travels around the United States in the 1830s, and his book, Democracy in America in this video from DREAM ON. Tocqueville attempted to capture what it means to be an American and is credited with first exploring the idea of the American Dream. Through video, discussion questions, and teaching tips, students can further explore issues connected to being an American and how understandings of America have changed over time.

    Grades: 8-12
  • Crime, Punishment, and Rehabilitation: Higher Education in Prison | Dream On

    Should higher education be offered in prison? In this video from Dream On, a documentary about various obstacles in obtaining the American Dream, learn about how a college degree has changed the lives of two inmates.

    What do we want prisoners to experience in prison? Should prison sentences focus on punishment and societal retribution, where inmates suffer misery until their release? Or would we rather see a sentence be a time of rehabilitation, where inmates exit prison better-equipped to make good choices and become productive members of society? Explore all of these questions in the video and the accompanying resource materials.

    Grades: 8-12
  • Undocumented Immigrants, Education, and the American Dream | Dream On

    Explore issues connected to immigration, undocumented immigrants, and education in this video from the documentary, Dream On. Keny Murillo was brought to the United States as a child and only knows America as his home. Although here illegally, should he receive help in obtaining a college degree? Should he be sent home? Does he have a right to pursue the American Dream? Students are asked to think critically and broaden their understanding of undocumented immigrants through discussion questions, classroom activities, and research.

    Grades: 8-12
  • The White Picket Fence: Defining the American Dream | Dream On

    Explore symbolism connected to the American Dream in this video from the documentary, Dream On, and then check out the Teaching Tips to help students dig deeper into personal definitions and understandings of the American Dream through discussion questions, classroom activities, and projects. 

    Grades: 8-12
  • A New Gilded Age: Income Inequality in The United States Today | Dream On

    Are we living in a new Gilded Age? Explore issues connected to wealth, income distribution, and social mobility in the United States in this video from the documentary Dream On, a film about obstacles in achieving the American Dream. Also learn how present day disparity of wealth in the United States compares to the Gilded Age in the 19th century.

    Grades: 8-12