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Education in many countries is used to initiate children and young people into publicly accepted forms of knowledge and to further a common identity among members and citizens of the nation‐state. This study discusses both an uncritical initiation to such knowledge and the value of criticality as an educational goal in terms of critical thinking, critical pedagogy, and revolutionary pedagogy. It contends that global transformation is challenging national education: such use is untenable in relation to a holistic view of understanding. It argues further that the holistic view challenges an account of democratic competence in terms of critical thinking, critical pedagogy, and revolutionary pedagogy. It opens up the possibility of democratic deliberation in post‐national education.