1) Are professors creating their own academic class and becoming increasingly out of touch with “regular folks”? 2) A variant of the old nature/nurture debate: Did my parents pass on some sort of “academic” (“bookish”? “nerdy”?) gene? Or was it because I spent so much of my childhood on Georgetown’s campus that I developed such an affinity for old stone buildings and grassy quads? 3) Is this no big deal? Children tend to follow their parents’ career paths (look at all the second and third generation doctors, lawyers, and military men and women out there), and academia is just the family business.And check out the comments, which are full of lawprofs. Orin Kerr shows up with the portmanteau word "proffspring." Ann Bartow narrates her personal story, which provokes the indomitable Kate Litvak to deliver a hearty smackdown: "I knew Ann Bartow had a tendency to see sexism in every human interaction; apparently, she also sees classism in every human interaction." (Go read the exchange.)
I didn't grow up around academics myself, and I'm sure this made some things harder. There was never a feeling of naturalness. But it must have helped in some ways too: the work seemed immensely glamorous and an outsider mentality lets you look at things in new ways. I can't say how good it feels to be one of those people who end up as professors by what feels to them like a natural path. How useful is it to have the feeling of emulating a parent? How satisfying is it to find yourself in social interactions that are like the ones you observed in the adults in your childhood home?
ADDED: I have to add that when I -- toward the end of law school -- told my father I wanted to be a law professor, he blurted "That's a cop out." He saw it as a candyass thing to do with a legal education. It was actually quite weird, because he'd never pushed me to achieve anything before. He never informed me that I was a fool to go to art school, for example. He never even gave me the idea, back when I was growing up, that I could try to become a lawyer (or any other sort of highly trained professional). If he'd held his tongue for so long, why did he suddenly burst out that one time with the revelation of what he thought of my choice? I have to think that he really hated the academic class -- though he never said why. An awful lot of people think academia is not the real world, is not a sound place where sane people ought to hole up.