From an extensive Minecraft community profile; also see Minecraft Education Edition, aimed at teachers, arrives in May (TechCrunch)
"This is what computer scientists call computational thinking, and it turns out to be one of Minecraft’s powerful, if subtle, effects. The game encourages kids to regard logic and if-then statements as fun things to mess around with. It teaches them what computer coders know and wrestle with every day, which is that programs rarely function at first: The work isn’t so much in writing a piece of software but in debugging it, figuring out what you did wrong and coming up with a fix.The Minecraft Generation - The New York Times
Minecraft is thus an almost perfect game for our current educational moment, in which policy makers are eager to increase kids’ interest in the “STEM” disciplines — science, technology, engineering and math. Schools and governments have spent millions on “let’s get kids coding” initiatives, yet it may well be that Minecraft’s impact will be greater. This is particularly striking given that the game was not designed with any educational purpose in mind. “We have never done things with that sort of intent,” says Jens Bergensten, the lead Minecraft developer at Mojang and Persson’s first hire. “We always made the game for ourselves.”"