Editorial: Lower outcomes from higher education in Canada

Canada has a serious diversity problem in a place that should be a cultivator of diversity: The halls of academe.

Places of higher learning, it appears, are increasingly becoming places of learning what to think, not how to think. That is bad for far more than students who pursue post-secondary education to broaden their knowledge and improve their job market prospects; it is bad for the cultures and economies of communities, regions and the country.

Orthodoxy does not cultivate innovation; education should.

But increasingly, education in Canada is becoming ossified in a political groupthink mentality that should be raising concern far beyond university campuses.

That trend is chronicled in a recently released Macdonald-Laurier Institute (MLI) report. According to The Viewpoint Diversity Crisis at Canadian Universities, the country’s universities, many of which have built strong reputations in the global education sector, have become “political monoliths whose lack of viewpoint diversity contributes to serious problems on campus.” Bearing the brunt of those problems is academic freedom, which is fundamental to opening minds in the search for truth and solutions to the problems and challenges that society faces. Sadly, the MLI report finds that politically conservative views are being marginalized by the 88 per cent of university professors and their flocks that read from the politically left-leaning hymnbook.

Professors harbouring minority conservative values and views therefore are now reluctant to share them because they fear hostility from colleagues, students and other members of the left-leaning orthodoxy.

That fear of mob backlash is well founded. Consider the damage to lives and careers that social media promotes through its guilt-by-accusation and character-assassination culture.

As bad, consider the damage that orthodoxy and groupthink do to the prospects of innovation, invention and individuality in this country. All three are in short supply, but the prospects of Canada’s education system bolstering that supply are dim and getting dimmer.