Anyone who has read "Rebekah Nathan's" recent popular book My Freshman Year , which is basically an anthropological study of college life, will observe the endemic lack of interest in academic life among the college students "Nathan" studies. They like college, sure enough, but, as it turns out, they like everything about college except academic life, except classes, except academic study.
Compare this with the piece in the Daily Kos about schooling today -- "teacherken" complains that life in schools, by which he means early childhood education, has become too academic.
Is it any wonder that our young adults are uninterested in academics if we bludgeon them with the stuff from a very early age?
The academic "pushing" of children, such as what David Elkind criticized in his books, is education on what Paulo Freire called the "banking model." The "banking model" is where teachers set themselves up as "bankers" and conceive of themselves as "making deposits" into children.
Almost all formal education is done according to this banking model. The result of it is, apparently, that you have in the United States the country with the world's best educational resources and a public largely uninterested in learning anything academic.