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How I Met Your Mother

Ha ha … oh man … *wipes tear* … this is awful. I can’t turn it off. The game’s just too easy right now. I mean, everyone’s serving me up these monster lesson plans. I’d have to walk around with my ears gummed up and my eyes blindfolded to experience even a little bit of a lesson planning block.

Exhibit A is, of course, The Red Dot (and how I taught it), a small blurb snatched out of an RSS feed and built into an hour of Algebra.

Exhibit B is CBS’ sitcom How I Met Your Mother which featured the following exchange last week. (Enjoy a YouTube upload of the scene or the following screenplay [which looks awesome outside the RSS feed].)

Luckless Ted (Josh Radnor) just met a girl online. Suit-sporting bachelor Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) interrogates:

  • So she's hot?
  • TED
  • Oh she's gorgeous.
  • Then ... she's crazy.
  • TED
  • No she's not.
  • There's no way she's above the line on the hot/crazy scale.
  • TED
  • She's not even on the hot/crazy scale. She's just hot.

Robin (Cobie Smulders) asks for an explanation of the hot/crazy scale, a scale which fits our current lesson plan like that embarrassingly tight t-shirt you’ve gotta suck in your gut to wear.

See, as Barney explains, being crazy is fine so long as you match your neuroses with good looks in a one-to-one correspondence (or better). Which makes sense.

In a fantastic hey-mister-scientist moment, Barney terms that line the Vickie Mendoza Diagonal, which, I mean, holy cow, I don’t care who you are, there’s no way to mess that one up.

But again, I didn’t care about the base hit. I wanted the home run, lights exploding as I rounded the bases, etc.

So I fabricated ten ex-girlfriends and ranked them on a ten-point scale for looks and sanity.

I asked the students to graph ’em and tell me which ones fell above the Vickie Mendoza Diagonal.Another question asked, totally straight-faced: “Is Mr. Meyer monogamous?”

I also put a length to each relationship and a start date, including two more graphs, which yielded interesting conclusions about a) the length of the relationships as my girlfriends got crazier,

and b) the hotness of the girls I dated as I got older.

It was fun. So fun.

I showed ’em individual dot plots of length and crazy and pointed out how they didn’t reveal anything

Then I put ’em all on the same scatter plot and the thought farthest from their minds at that moment was, when could we ever use this in real life?

Oh man … I swear, if I wasn’t a teacher, I’d have that screenplay banked by now plus four more on top of it. Such is the creativity this job demands.


  1. Keynote
  2. PowerPoint
  3. PDF
  4. Quicktime Movie
  5. Handout

17 Responses to “How I Met Your Mother”

  1. on 26 Oct 2007 at 4:42 pmMichael K.

    Nice move, tossing a baseball reference in there, giving props to that other Mendoza.

  2. on 26 Oct 2007 at 5:56 pmken

    see Jessica Hagy’s blog for more graphing fun!

  3. on 28 Oct 2007 at 12:42 pmDee

    Just goes to show you – I enjoyed the entire episode without it ever crossing my mind about the math in it! Thanks for your wonderful perspective!

  4. […] last recommendation is Dy-Dan – and his blog entry on a math lesson that was taught on TaaDaa…How I Met Your Mother (called […]

  5. on 30 Oct 2007 at 6:34 pmTMAO

    This is good shit. I laughed my proverbial ass off at the girlfriend chart. Nice.

  6. on 12 Nov 2007 at 7:21 amAwesomeness

    Excellent! Your further analysis of Barney’s Crazy vs. Hot scale is truly awesome. Truly you have a dizzying intellect as seen by the graphs… makes me want to plot all my past relationships out to see how the graph would look. Either way…thanks for the laugh.

  7. […] reasoning). I figured, until recently, that in a 120-minute classroom, any time we spent on goofy conceptual digressions was time away from skill instruction we’d have to make up […]

  8. on 25 Mar 2009 at 7:54 amSimon Oldaker

    If you don’t mind goofy conceptual digressions, then you should check out ‘Le grand content’: a video made from Jessica Hagy’s graphs. I can’t really explain which point in the curriculum this is going to come under, but I’m going to show it to my class anyway…

  9. […] my planning time lately curating media of the kind Todd lists in his awesome run-on sentence there: TV shows, photos I find, photos I take, video I capture, iPhone applications, current events, commercials, […]

  10. […] out some examples of lessons Meyer has created (sometimes in collaboration with his readers) from TV shows, photos Meyer finds, photos Meyer takes, video Meyer captures, iPhone applications, current events, […]

  11. on 15 Jun 2009 at 5:14 pmElissa

    Now THIS is on my level. I love this and actually understand it. My first comment that doesn’t ask a question!!

  12. on 24 Feb 2010 at 6:24 amuberVU - social comments

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by Elissa Miller: @mackrellr and are awesome ideas…

  13. on 16 May 2010 at 4:27 pmMath Teacher | Public Agents

    […] a tool for exploration. Start by following Mr. Meyer’s blog. For a hook, read this post about Hotness vs. Craziness in romantic […]

  14. […] den absolut bästa och smaskigaste: How I Met Your Mother. Han sitter alltså och tittar på TV och blir inspirerad till en mattelektion som beskrivs i […]

  15. […] and grading in a traditional manner will most likely, not accomplish this.  This is why we watch “How I Met your Mother” clips and discuss the Crazy -vs- Hot scale.  I want them to love my class and not hate […]

  16. on 26 Feb 2011 at 9:00 amMath Teacher « William D. Walker

    […] a tool for exploration. Start by following Mr. Meyer’s blog. For a hook, read this post about Hotness vs. Craziness in romantic […]

  17. […] So when I taught my statistics unit in November, I decided to have fun with it. I was doing Dan Meyer’s How I Met Your Mother lesson and updated it a bit. See, I wouldn’t just use Dan’s list of fabricated ex-girlfriends. […]