In her recent discussion of journal clubs, FSP mentions that she considers the process of dissecting a paper (not necessarily in a savage or overly negative way) to be a critical skill.
My department in grad school didn't have a journal club. Neither did my undergrad geology department. I wish they did, though. Although I read my fair share of papers and I did have a number of scientific writing assignments, I still had a lot of trouble when it was time to write my own paper because I was stymied by the mechanics of structuring it and squashing it into the page requirements. And this with an undergraduate department that was heavily focused on scientific writing.
Are journal clubs common in geology departments? They certainly seem like a good idea especially for grad students, who may be reasonably anticipated to write scientific papers for an outside audience.