The key concept which connects the two readings of this week is their discussion about literacy. Both of these readings support the idea that literacy is a social act. This social nature in literacy presents the complexity of literacy which leads to the idea that there are literacies, not literacy.
Carter makes a huge connection between different literacies determined by different social norms and education. First of all, she treats “literacy differently, not as a “bundle of skills” but as a situated, people-oriented activity governed by “rules” established and maintained by insiders-members of the target community of practice. In doing so, we treat literacy not as an abstract set of rigid “standards” and “rules” as a blend of mutable, social forces that are deeply situated in time and place” (15). Basically, she presents the idea that literacy is determined by people, their different social institutions, and norms. So, literacy belongs to people, and different people, their different social acts creates different literacy, which is why, treating literacy as the product of dominant community in a society is to deny the social nature of literacy. This idea leads her to criticize standardized tests, since the literacy in these tests is defined by dominant community such as politicians. This is why, these tests cannot be a good way of assessing students as literate or illiterate, since they only offer one perspective. This is why, students who fail in these tests, remedial students, or basic writers are illiterate in the norms of a dominant literacy that they have in their society. However, their own literacy is excluded. To make them understand the standard norms of literacy, first they should understand their own literacy and different literacies. This is why, Carter supports the idea that students should be able to learn different literacy discourses in their education to understand the complex nature of literacy. So, they can see literacy as a social act, and then they can be part of the discourse of the standard literacy.
Deborah Brandt also presents a conversation about the complex nature of literacy. There are sponsors in social structure creates different literacies, sponsors determines the nature of literacies. Brandt defines these sponsors as “any agents” in a society (334). It can be politics, education, economics etc. The point is that these sponsors creates different literacies, and in education these different literacies should be considered by teachers and any kind of testing systems not exclude students who are minorities in a society because of their own literacy.