The other day I visited an elementary school. The assistant superintendent who showed us around commented at one point on how the teachers at the school were pleased and somewhat surprised by how their students were able to take on a math program that they originally thought was too hard for their students. Misconceptions like these held by teachers and administrators can play a big role in thwarting student learning and innovation.
Based on visits to hundreds of schools and interacting with lots of students and staff, my conclusion is kids have a lot of untapped potential. Furthermore, when they are supported kids can do amazing things. As an example, check out this video about Ann Makosinski. As a 15 year old she designed a next-generation flashlight that is powered by the heat of your hand! So awesome!! And as the teacher who shared this video with me said "the video is a great reminder for me (in the midst of data analysis/testing stress at school) of why we do what we do!"