While philosophical scholarship and empirical research are frequently presented as discrete activities, I argue that both are essential to a project such as developing a theory of pedagogy. Functions and limits of philosophical work are outlined as background to my argument for systematic data gathering about power's operation in pedagogy. For too long, now, pedagogical theorists have neglected systematic observations of the very phenomena they are attempting to understand. Drawing upon work which is primarily philosophical in character from both radical pedagogy and Foucauldian literature, an empirical study is outlined. Examples are presented which demonstrate the benefits to be gained from employing both types of intellectual activity.