Reading "Need for Magic" as a teacher of psychology, I was inspired with ways to use the charm of the story to engage my students in discussions and discovery of the fundamental attribution error, the bystander effect, obedience, conformity, cognitive dissonance and group think (to name a few of the embedded concepts in the book). Reading Swope's work as a closet fantasy junkie, I was delighted with how beautifully he crafted the story and how easily he hooked me into wanting to get hold of the next book in what he promises to be a trilogy.
I recommend "Need for Magic" to anyone who loves fantasy, loves psychology and loves to lead students into discovering psychological concepts in innovative and engaging ways.
Joe Swope's Need for Magic explores the world of fantasy and psychology in a truly unique way. Through the use of allegory and deft prose, Joe tells a tale touching on a variety of aspects of social psychology in a way that is engaging and informative. Tracing a variety of story lines through the charismatic and entrancing fantasy realm of dragons and magic, Joe has put together a truly unique and memorable tale that subtly demonstrates some of the highlights of social psychology. This book is a good read for anyone looking for alternate methods and approaches to teaching or learning about social psychology.
Need for Magic is a perfect mixture of fantasy and social psychology brewed by the magician and teacher, Joseph Swope, to interest and educate introductory psychology students. Having taught high school Psychology for over twenty years and AP Psychology for ten, I enjoyed this engrossing book and predict that students will be won over by the heroic characters. The hero, Keven, is an unappreciated adolescent who transcends his humble beginnings by tying his fate to a traveling wizard. He crosses paths with the evil, charismatic Regent Lilandra who plays to people's needs to secure her dystopian vision of society. Mayhem ensues as wizards, magicians, fairies, the king, and the peasantry fight for or against Lilandra's dream of a totalitarian state. The final battle for hearts and minds includes a sleeping dragon and a lost love. How can anyone, especially adolescents and young adults, resist this provocative story?
I recommend Swope's epic as supplementary reading for Psychology or AP Psychology students. The appendix is an "index of social psychology concepts" and it documents ideas brought alive in the book. Swope also provides lesson plans, quizzes, and other educational tools to support teachers using this book in their classrooms. I personally have purchased a class set of Need for Magic and plan to use it as a resource for explaining cognitive dissonance, the bystander effect , the fundamental attribution error, and other complicated concepts of group behavior. If teachers or students read Need for Magic, all will be waiting breathlessly for the sequel . . .as am I!
Joseph Swope wrote Need for Magic for his high school psychology students and I'm so glad that he did. To help his students understand many of the social psychology concepts he teaches, Swope created a fantasy land of well developed characters and magical creatures who pit good against evil as they battle one another for power.
I think Swope's novel is a great idea and I wish that there were more novels available like this one, that is, novels that apply important psychological concepts to real life situations. Students who read Need for Magic will certainly have a better understanding of social psychology's concepts and the experience of reading a good book.
The plot will pull students who love fantasies right into high gear reading. The beautiful, but evil Lilantra poses as tutor for a good king's daughter. She wants to undermine the king's relationship with his daughter as well as the subjects of his realm in order to have complete control over their minds and behaviors. Lilantra's "magic" is her ability to understand people's needs and then trick them into believing she has improved their lives. Lilantra's hopes are interrupted by her brother, a powerfully evil wizard who himself wants to surpass his sitser's prowess and rides a dangerous dragon into the land. Fortunately, the dragon enters a deep sleep, but Lilantra's hands will be full if the dragon awakes.
What really hooked me on the story was the coming-of-age saga of Keven a stable boy whose future looks worse than gloomy because he is a bastard son whom everybody mocks and mistreats. When a story-teller wizard enters the scene and recognizes Keven's potential, the story becomes more complicated and fun. Add a young woman so anxious to blindly serve Lilantra's cause that she runs away from home, some super strong dwarves and a beautiful elf, and the book gets harder to put down.
Students will be able to follow the methods charismatic leaders use to establish cults. They will see how easy it is to create an atmosphere where conformity and obedience to authority flourish. The novel really illustrates how terrible events such as the growth of Nazi Germany can occur right "under the noses" of good people. Swope included an index of social psychology concepts as they appear in the novel, but even without this aide, students of psychology could probably locate many of the terms such as the bystander effect, cognitive dissonance, and the fundamental attribution error.
Every so often, some creative soul produces an original idea that is born of the merging of two previously parallel realities, leaving the rest of us marveling at the offspring of their insights.
Joseph Swope is one of those souls. His book "Need for Magic" is the triumphant child of his vision for bringing together the recent fervor for fantasy literature and the ever elusive goal of engaging students in the process of understanding psychology.
Following the exploits of a young stable boy (Kevin) through an imaginary world filled with wizards, dragons, dwarfs and elves, Swope subtly integrates principles of social psychology into the story line. For those on whom subtly is lost, Swope includes an appendix indexing the principles being illustrated in the narrative.Back to Teaching NFM