I completely concur with your criticism of modern USian culture; however, I'd like to point out that America is hardly what one would consider "educated". We have a profound culture of ignorance, which is fueled by religious superstition. I am not surprised at its psychological and physical manifestations.
I believe, however, that the above does not contradict my original point, that the generally higher level of education contributes, in the aggregate, to societal happiness. Consider: how much more unhappy America will become once the majority has lost the ability to read beyond the 3rd grade level?
As to your other point, about compulsive education, I'll be delighted to find a better model, truly; school should not be a camp where one stews for 12 years. And yes, even in the relatively more educated countries kids still don't want to learn, it is, as you point out, human nature. But the opposite does not bear contemplation - indulging these attitudes. Again, I submit that American culture does exactly that by finding every conceivable "disability" to excuse poor scholastic performance. In short, compulsory education is suboptimal, but preferable to its utterly ignorant counterpart.